Resisting the Urge to Rant (About Kids Watching a Computer Screen While On the Trampoline)


Because I understand that different generations have fun in different ways — I myself did not grow up whittling, for instance, nor have I ever played marbles — I solemnly swear not to say, “Can’t kids play for THREE SECONDS even on something as joyful as a TRAMPOLINE without needing a COMPUTER SCREEN to tell them what to do and how to have fun?”

So I won’t.

I’ll just show you the ad for the Springfree srnnkfthtt
 “outdoor interactive digital gaming system” that lets kids interface with a computer game by jumping on their trampoline, sort of like Dance Dance Revolution. Some of you will love this, some not. Either way, it strikes me as some kind of milestone in the history of kids and playing. – L



Confused about how to play without a screen? Jump while watching!

Confused about how to have fun without a screen? Jump while watching!



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41 Responses to Resisting the Urge to Rant (About Kids Watching a Computer Screen While On the Trampoline)

  1. elizabeth May 14, 2016 at 11:42 pm #

    Omg seriously? This is a stupid product.

  2. Craig May 15, 2016 at 2:12 am #

    So many kids I know can’t seem to take anything in of their surroundings as they spend so much of their time focused on moving content on a tiny screen. Without tech, they are bored. Like addicts waiting for their next rush. I dunno, this kind of stuff just fosters tablet/phone addiction and an addictive desire for more and more novelty.

    Does anyone just lay in the grass and look at the sky anymore?

  3. Reader May 15, 2016 at 2:24 am #

    This is obviously a way to sell products, and the last example looks pretty unrealistic – any teenager achieving that level of gymnastic activity has learnt it through formal classes, not an app.

  4. Wendy W May 15, 2016 at 2:32 am #

    Not likely to buy it for my kids, but I wouldn’t mind using the fitness app. I need all the encouragement I can get to get off my backside.

  5. andy May 15, 2016 at 5:51 am #

    I guess it is going to be one of those toys that sounds fun in theory, but end up meh in practice.

    When ad spends a lot of time showing happy kids and families and very little time showing the game, the game is almost guaranteed to be bad and no fun.

  6. BL May 15, 2016 at 6:15 am #

    ‘I solemnly swear not to say, “Can’t kids play for THREE SECONDS even on something as joyful as a TRAMPOLINE with just needing a COMPUTER SCREEN to tell them what to do and how to have fun?”’

    Yes, go ahead, say it.

    In some ways, it’s not all that new. In recent pre-computer generations, how many kids (and adults) were without a transistor radio at their ear or a boom box playing (perhaps while trampolining)? It’s still common to hear a radio station or Muzak (if it’s still called that) in every damn place to shop. And, of course, no waiting room without a television blaring.

  7. Nicole R. May 15, 2016 at 7:15 am #

    Eh, it looks fun. Tech shouldn’t completely replace old fashioned activities, of course, but I’m all for balance. Sometimes, “ya gotta meet kids where they are” to drag them gently where you want them to be.

  8. Theresa May 15, 2016 at 8:14 am #

    Computers are everything these days. The days where you could have fun without having tech are over. At least we can get them to move.

  9. Filmatix May 15, 2016 at 8:31 am #

    @BL, especially:

    I, too, am dumbfounded by not being able to go a single office waiting area without a TV set blaring Jerry Springer or the like, along with at least 1 or 2 people actually watching something loud on their own phones, with or without headphones. Isn’t the doctor’s/dentist’s supposed to be a relaxing place dedicated to promoting health? I show up now with earplugs and a book.

    As for the trampoline ad, notice also how the product is advertised as something that the kids take turns on. One kid in his/her own screen-based isolation, the others looking on. Somehow I find that the most telling. That many people now think “more interactive” is always better is the other sad telltale of our age.

  10. Puzzled May 15, 2016 at 9:05 am #

    I dunno, it looks kind of fun.

  11. MichaelF May 15, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    We had 6 kids in the neighbor’s trampoline last night, they were in it for about 2 hours, no electronics and no one was bored. I guess it depends on what you need to motivate your kids.

  12. Powers May 15, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    I guess your view of this depends on whether you see it as replacing indoor screen time or replacing outdoor free play.

  13. Jessica May 15, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    The funniest thing to me is that they’re showing only one kid on the trampoline at a time – which is what most trampoline warnings recommend – but seriously, I’ve never seen just one kid on while the rest watch.

  14. lollipoplover May 15, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    This looks like an orthopedic surgeon’s dream.

    Looking at the screen instead of paying attention to your body jumping and add more than one jumper (has anyone ever seen a trampoline where kids follow the only one jumper rule?). I see more injuries than the large number of breaks that already happen on trampolines. Most breaks happen when the jumper lands wrong…and this is without a distracting screen. Ankle breaks and sprains on trampolines keep orthos busy all year round (and hoverboards are helping their business too).

    And why rank them on bar graphs?! I want more kids to play outside, but I don’t think the answer is to turn free play into a Biggest Loser fitness challenge. Outdoor trampolines are fun already (and a bit dangerous, too) and kid magnets without high tech jumping apps.

  15. Nicole R. May 15, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    “I guess your view of this depends on whether you see it as replacing indoor screen time or replacing outdoor free play.” – Exactly!

    “The funniest thing to me is that they’re showing only one kid on the trampoline at a time – which is what most trampoline warnings recommend – but seriously, I’ve never seen just one kid on while the rest watch.” – And true!

  16. JL Turner May 15, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    When I was young I wondered why dad would see something and grumble, now I know why.

  17. Kimberly May 15, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    I think if I had a choice of watching my son play video games on the couch and eating junk food or playing video games while bouncing on a trampoline, I would definitely pick the trampoline any time. Even gyms have TVs going over the equipment to help keep people’s minds off their work out.

  18. Gina May 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    Sorry, WHAT?

  19. Backroads May 15, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    If only this product would have been around when I was knee high to a grasshopper and my siblings and the neighbor kids and I were invading that one lady’s backyard to jump on her trampoline who didn’t care as long as we weren’t too loud while she was teaching piano lessons. THEN we might have had fun.

  20. Backroads May 15, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

    To continue my train of thought, if only we had this device when I was young, we would have have been reduced to playing games such as Crack the Egg and Dead Man Dead Man and Tag or NInja Turtles on the trampoline, or even using it as a nice warm sunny spot when we were tired. We were miserable, I tell you. MISERABLE. And then our only options were to go bike riding or pretend the bit of woods down the street was a space ship or go play at the park.

    Sigh. I was clearly born in the wrong generation.

  21. Backroads May 15, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    By the way, I’m going to show this video to my neighbor, an old-school fellow from rural Mexico who does have a trampoline for his grandkids in the backyard. Then we can laugh and laugh…

  22. Donald May 15, 2016 at 6:51 pm #

    I think it’s great! I’m sure it’ll catch on. This computer game trampoline doesn’t look all that fun but I can see potential. I’m all for compromise. It would be nice to get children outdoors without ‘bribing’ them with electronics. However, we’ve been wanting that for a long time but with limited results. I welcome the help of an I-pad to get kids active.

    The trampoline can go only so far in game advancement. However I love the idea. I can image a computer game teaching dance moves. It will work in reverse to that software used to generate a CGI character. Did you see photos of the actor that made Gollum? He wore many electronic tags. These tags made a 3d stick figure of him walking and jumping. If this is combined with a game, you can earn points on how good of a dancer that you are. This will be great for adults as well for something like an online yoga class.

    Of course this is years in the future. This big leap will be similar to the leap between Pacman and World of Warcraft

  23. A Reader May 15, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

    It seems a little silly to me, but I think an important part of the free range movement is that the kids will be ok. So yes, it means they ought to play outside more, especially with less adult supervision, but in this day and age, where there’s a lot of panic about “screen time” and what, if any, is the appropriate amount, we have to remember that screens aren’t going to melt our kids’ brains either. Any extreme panic about how it will affect teh childrenz is at odds with what it means to be free range. My parents are younger Boomers, and while sure, they grew up in the free range utopia in the 60s, but they also watched plenty of garbage TV programs, before the age of Sesame Street and educational programming. They definitely got more than the current recommended screen time, despite the interwebs not existing. So I’m not ready to raise hue and cry over this.

  24. Backroads May 15, 2016 at 8:33 pm #

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a detriment to kids, I just like mocking it. I find the ad worse than the product. If they simply presented a video game for the trampoline, cool. But when they show it as a solution for getting kids outside, it becomes silly.

  25. elizabeth May 15, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

    A game me, my brothers, and my cousins played on the trampoline a couple years ago on vacation: Popcorn. One perspn lays in the middle of the trampoline and the others bounce around them, witj the goal of bouncing them up into the air. It was about six or seven of us at the time, with two toddlers and an elementary student in the mix.

  26. Andrea Drummond May 15, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

    Where’s the barf button???

  27. Jenny Islander May 15, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

    Isn’t bouncing around on an unstable surface while trying to keep your head in pretty much the same position kind of dangerous?

  28. Avin Squires May 16, 2016 at 1:40 am #

    I’m kind of ambivalent about this one, mostly due to what my son spent his 9th birthday weekend, this weekend, doing. First off, my husband’s first first career was as a programmer for Microsoft. Tech is in our blood. Now he uses his comp skills as a hobbyist. He’s been using an arduino to build our son a new toothbrush timer in his spare time between Med school rotations. Sure we could buy one, but my husband loves to create things–dang, that’s explains where all these kids came from lol– and he’s having his first circuit board printed as we speak.

    Our eldest son just turned 9 and sometime last year, around the time my hubby got into building circuit boards and writing apps, our son was curious, so we bought him the beginners snap circuit set. It’s like circuit board building for kids with a ton of projects. He loved it, so for Christmas he got the big 700 piece set and for this birthday he got the Snap Circuit Rover. He built it immediately, but then he started swapping pieces out and using his imagination to alter the instructions given. He even got it to play Happy Birthday! Sure it’s an isolating activity, save dad helping out here and there, but he drove it all around the back yard and used it to carry his new Lego set while he walked (alone), driving his rover to spend the night at grandmas 2 blks away. He was so proud of his modified creation and we were proud that he used his imagination to create something pretty darn cool.

    The point is, I get not wanting your kids glued to a screen, but advancing technology and solo play is not always a negative. We went on to spend the day today at our zoo’s water park, where he played outside for hours with no screens or tech at all. I think it’s mostly about balance and motivating any positive play for our family.

  29. John May 16, 2016 at 9:15 am #

    Can’t kids play for THREE SECONDS even on something as joyful as a TRAMPOLINE without needing a COMPUTER SCREEN to tell them what to do and how to have fun?

  30. Rae Pica May 16, 2016 at 9:52 am #

    As you know, Lenore, children’s physical activity is my specialty. I’ve spent 36 years promoting it. So, typically, I’m in favor of anything that encourages kids to move! But this irks the hell out of me because it’s not just the act of moving that’s important, it’s also imagination, connection to one’s surroundings, social interaction, and more. In short, I am beyond tired of kids looking at screens. I could go on and on, but I’ll end my rant here.

    I will add that it’s wonderful to see how many of your readers are kindred spirits. Thanks for all you do!

  31. Mike May 16, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

    Looks dangerous to me. The kid’s focus will be 100% on the screen, not on where they are in relationship to the trampoline, or their body position. Whoops, fell sideways on a bounce, got tossed off onto the ground? No problem, SUE!

  32. Papilio May 16, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    I haven’t spent much time on trampolines or bouncy castles or whatever, but isn’t the nicest thing that sense of flying and/or being launched by the other jumpers?
    I also wondered if you have enough control over how and where you land to make it fun as a game…

    @BL: I can’t think of any waiting room with a tv – at least not at the doctor’s, dentist’s, or in the hospital, or in train stations. MacDonald’s maybe…? Don’t recall any televisions at the airport either, unless for flight info…

    (What does the Deutsche Demokratische Republik have to do with anyth- oh, dance dance revolution 😛 )

  33. Ostadan May 16, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

    The Director and his students stood for a short time watching a game of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. Twenty children were grouped in a circle round a chrome steel tower. A ball thrown up so as to land on the platform at the top of the tower rolled down into the interior, fell on a rapidly revolving disk, was hurled through one or other of the numerous apertures pierced in the cylindrical casing, and had to be caught.

    “Strange,” mused the Director, as they turned away, “strange to think that even in Our Ford’s day most games were played without more apparatus than a ball or two and a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting. imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. It’s madness. Nowadays the Controllers won’t approve of any new game unless it can be shown that it requires at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games.” He interrupted himself.

    Aldous Huxley, “Brave New World”

  34. Harrow May 16, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    Just what kids need — one more thing to smack your head into while bouncing on a trampoline.

  35. Bob Cavanaugh May 16, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

    @BL, there’s a difference between that and what Lenore is asking. From what I understand, this is something like DDR for the trampoline, which is what Lenore is questioning. The transistor radio argument doesn’t really stand up, because it’s just providing background music. Case in point I was hanging out with a friend yesterday and we put some music on, but didn’t stop what we were doing except to change the song or show off the sound system.

  36. Kevin May 16, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

    Well, at least this way they are going outdoors and getting exercise!

  37. J.T. Wenting May 17, 2016 at 8:18 am #

    “Does anyone just lay in the grass and look at the sky anymore?”

    Only if I can have my Kindle to read and my smartphone to alert me of high pollen concentrations and incoming bad weather. 😉

    tbh, if I had a lawn and the weather were good, I’d do just that, lay in the grass and look at the sky for a while, or lay in the grass and read a book.

  38. Donna May 17, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    “I get not wanting your kids glued to a screen, but advancing technology and solo play is not always a negative.”

    The issue is not that children should never be exposed to technology or engage in solo play. I’ve never seen Lenore as being anti-either thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing with Legos or circuits or even watching TV and playing video games. And my kid jumps on her trampoline solo all the time, as did I when I was a child, so trampolines and solo play have never been mutually exclusive ideas.

    The issue is taking an activity that has been enjoyed screen-less by many generations of kids and attaching a screen. It enforces the idea that kids NEED a screen to engage in any activity today.

  39. Denny Weston May 18, 2016 at 12:02 am #

    Though I appreciate the creativity of the product, I agree that we live in a world dominated by screens. Kids playing outside should be about the connection to the natural world and the people around them…it shouldn’t require or need screens. Like Craig mentioned below, if our kids don’t have tech involved in their play they get bored, how sad. Anyone know of some new outdoor family games that don’t require screens?

  40. Qute May 18, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    To me it’s not the worst thing in the world. Everyone seems to be assuming there’s this great gaggle of kids waiting around to play on the trampoline but that’s not always true. As an only child in wild and crazy 70s & 80s I would have liked something like this as often I was the only one around and got bored playing on the trampoline by myself. I was a latchkey kid and my hours were slightly different than a lot of my friends so I spent a lot of late afternoon hours bored usually inside and reading or watching TV. Something like this gives a certain “point” to solo play. The fun part about playing on a trampoline as a kid is showing everyone what you can do or everyone trying to master the same thing. This gives kids a “point” to the play for kids who need that sort of guidance or for the kid who doesn’t live somewhere where there are these big groups of kids the rest of you are talking about to play with.

  41. SanityAnyone? May 21, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    Boring. They will be found at garage sales next summer.