This Tech Gadget For Kids May Come With Hidden Dangers

Raising children in this digital age has its benefits, but there are often hidden pitfalls in regard to our kids’ health and well-being when technology is overused.

While this generation is being raised with almost daily advances in the tech world, it may be difficult to find a balance and limit what tech devices and gadgets the family really needs.

Manufacturers and retailers bombard consumers and make the public believe they cannot live without the latest-and-greatest device.  But many of these gadgets are unnecessary – or downright dangerous to the physical and emotional development of our children.

Enter the Fit Bit and its numerous product variations, including a new model for kids – the Fit Bit Zip.  Sure, we want our children to have healthy habits and stay active, but is this product taking it too far?  Experts have their concerns, and all parents should be aware of the drawbacks of these “must-have” devices.

One of the primary concerns about activity trackers for kids is that they may cause more harm than good by making children hyper-aware about tracking their every move and counting calories.  As with other devices like smartphones, children tend to focus on the constant stream of information they are receiving, rather than simply enjoying physical activity and play.

And most experts warn that counting calories can be a dangerous proposition for kids and young teens.  Kurbo.com reported:

While calorie counting may be an effective weight loss tool for adults, it is not a healthy practice for kids and teens.  First, calorie counting can lead to a hyper-focus around food.  The moment a parent hears their child rattling off questions…and calculating numbers, it all starts to feel wrong. 

Secondly, calorie counting ignores the nutritional value of the food, which is critical for the developing bodies of children and teens.  Finally, counting calories signifies “diet,” which implies a negative stigma and severe restrictions around food.  Our goal as parents is to help our kids be active and healthy and feel good about their bodies.  We want to create healthy eating and exercise habits they can maintain throughout their lives.

Our children’s body image and self-esteem are already a huge cause of concern for parents.  They are subjected to stereotypes in the media about what a healthy weight or body type should be.  These images are especially dangerous for our young girls, and it is our girls who are likely to become obsessive over the data and results they see when using a fitness tracker.

Of even greater concern are issues that have nothing to do with fitness.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received complaints, ranging in the thousands, over burns and rashes caused by these devices.  In fact, in 2014, Fit Bit issued a massive recall of the Fitbit Force for causing severe skin injuries.

ABC 13 reported:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, 7 On Your Side finally received a report revealing what may be the real reason for those mysterious rashes. It suggests they were not allergies at all, but chemical burns, like what you would get from spilling Drano on your hand.

Two months after the recall, the scientists wrote: “It is plausible a person’s perspiration can enter into the charging port…” of the Fitbit.

They found that sweat in the charger caused a chemical reaction that produced a toxic compound, saying: “This scenario is supported by one consumer stating their injury occurred after charging… and a skin burn the shape of the charging port in another incident.”

Although the Fit Bit Zip for kids has the option to be worn as a clip-on attachment to clothing, it can have direct contact with the skin by wearing it on the wrist like their other models.

And the Healthy Home Economist warns of allergies and potentially dangerous levels of radiation emitted from these devices  — all significant risks to children whose young bodies are more vulnerable than adults.

Fitbit stated that after consulting with medical professionals, the general assessment is that the skin problems were likely allergic reactions to nickel, an alloy in the stainless steel or adhesives used to assemble the Fitbit Force.

Fitbits that people wear while sleeping seem most dangerous of all.  There is absolutely no data proving the safety of these devices during sleep even though the user manuals claim that “This equipment complies with FCC radiation exposure limits set forth for an uncontrolled environment.”

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of these activity trackers is that they monitor every move of your child’s day.  Data is collected on their location, sleep and wake periods, and other personal information.

While Fit Bit requires children to be over the age of 13 to set up a Fit Bit account through the online app, young teens who use the devices are allowing access to personal data that may put them in danger.

Tech Republic reported:

The fact that so much data is collected through a wearable device, such as an activity tracker, means that there are tangible risks involved, according to Conan Dooley, a senior security engineer with Box, and previously a senior security analyst with Bishop Fox.

Data can be breached by third parties if not properly stored by the manufacturer, and sold to other individuals to turn a profit – or to prey on our children online.

While parents always want their children to stay active and focus on making good choices for their health, it appears there are many dangers looming behind the use of these activity trackers.

The best advice?  Let kids be kids!  Kids should stay healthy through play, like spending time outdoors in the sunshine running in the yard or playing a game of catch with friends.  They should be exposed to healthy habits and a variety of nutritious, real foods.

What do you think of activity trackers that are marketed for children?  Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

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