Deb Lowther: Family on the Run


Will This TV Show Be the One to Get Your Kids Moving?

New TV Program Aims to inspire kids to become more active

When the 2014 Active Healthy Kids Canada report card on physical activity in youth announced that Canada scored a D- after measuring kids activity levels, and confirmed most Canadian kids don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of activity a day, parents, schools and TV programmers took notice.

Looking for solutions to get our kids more active, one network is betting their new TV show is just what kids need to start moving.  That begs the obvious question; can parking the kids in front of the TV inspire them to be more active?  

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We are a very active family and always have been; for us TV is used as down time. My kids spend on average only 30 minutes a day in front of the TV during the week and maybe as much as 1-2 hours on the weekends. The other time in between, my kids are dancing, skiing, biking, running, swimming, doing gymnastics, bouncing, or just being active kids and playing outside.

The concept of needing a TV show to get my kids moving seems odd to me, but my kids are older.  A simple “get outside and play” and they are out for hours. It was different when they were younger. I had to be physically involved with them in order to get them active. I had to take them to the park, to family swim, to open gym time at the local YMCA. I had to get out of the house and off the couch, and I did because when my kids were being active they were happy. When they were home with nothing to do they were bored, they squabbled, complained, and cried.

This new concept TV show is an interactive musical adventure called The Moblees on CBC and it's designed to promote healthy active living among 3-5 year olds in Canada and while statistics show the younger set is active, they are still spending up to 4 hours a day in front of screens. This early TV watching habit is leading to only 7% of 5-11 year olds getting the recommended level of activity daily as they are spending up to 8 hours a day in front of screens. Thinking back to the years when I had a 3, 5 and 7 year old I know I used the TV as a parenting aid. How else was dinner going to get made or the laundry done if the kids didn’t have some time in front of the TV?  

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I am curious if this new concept show created with advisors like experts Dr. Mark Tremblay and Dr Lynn Oldershaw and in partnership with ParticipACTION will get kids active at that moment and also encourage an active lifestyle overall or do the kids just watch the characters on TV moving about while they remain seated on the couch.  The opening song is super catchy and fun, the show focuses on one movement – in this episode it was twirling - and displays kids doing this during play while cast members sing creative songs to encourage kids at home to mimic the movement and dance along. At the end of the show you can download your own twirling medal for successful completion of the activity. 

On the one hand I think the idea of using TV to get kids active is crazy – life should keep kids active, there is so much to do at home and outside that promotes family fun and gets everyone moving.  On the other hand, if kids are going to watch TV anyway while parents are busy, why not have them watch bright, colourful and very happy characters dancing and twirling around. Why not have the TV encouraging them to get up and shake their sillies out, why not have bright butterflies tell them that happy is healthy and great things happen when you move about?  

I am not sure if a TV show will help get our kids more active, but if they are going to be plopped in front of a TV, it certainly can’t hurt to have a little active inspiration twirling about on the screen.

What are your thoughts – can a TV show aimed at 3-5 years olds get kids off the couch the way the Wii got gamers out of their chairs?  Can TV encourage an active lifestyle or should parents grab the remote, turn off the TV and get the family outside?