A Decade of Tech, Part 7

In 2018, Fitbit came out with a new device​ meant to encourage healthful movement in young people. “It can automatically track kids’ activity, remind them to get up and move, and set activity goals for them to meet.” Designed especially for children age 8 and older, it was priced at $100. The various parts would track their steps and their active minutes, and remind them to get up and move. There were encouraging messages and activity goals and rewards. It also kept track of sleep time. The ad copy said,

Parents will be able to check kids’ activity and approve kids’ friend requests in the app, as well as set limits on what their kids can see.

By 2022, several different kinds of Fitbit gadgets were available for the younger crowd.​ The offerings included models for younger kids, for older kids, devices available at a discount, and “feature-rich” options with “all the bells and whistles” including the ability to report on blood oxygen levels and skin temperature variation.

Parents were told that, thanks to the device, they would be aware of when to reward their children for making credible efforts, and be able to pit children against each other in friendly competition. The devices were designed to protect children’s privacy from everyone except, of course, their parents. The instructions also came with various caveats:

The Parent view in the Fitbit app lets you navigate between your view and your kid’s view to check on their activity and progress. It also provides you with a means to manage who your children connect with and what information they see on the OLED display…​ These wearables only focus on fitness tracking so lack safety tracking functionality that can be found in certain other devices. The most important thing to know is that Fitbit does NOT gather location tracking data from your child.​

An interesting twist in the product field, from SunderlandEcho, was a type of pedometer that orchestrated a “virtual trek.” In 2015, students from 30 different primary schools were issued pedometers that kept count of their steps and then, thanks to a specialized website, translated the distance they had covered into an imaginary walking tour.​

The system marks out the steps on a map along the route of the Jarrow March to London and then around Europe, taking in all the major cities, including Paris and Berlin.

Students from the school that chalked up the most “travel” miles were rewarded.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Fitbit’s new $100 fitness tracker is made especially for kids — here’s how it works,'” BusinessInsider.com, 03/14/18
Source: “Best Fitbits for kids & teenagers – guide, recommendations,” GadgetsAndWearables.com, 12/02/22
Source: “Thousands take part in ‘virtual’ trek across Europe,” SunderlandEcho.com, 07/03/15
Image by ucniss/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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