Data captured by the device accelerometers

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Reference no: EM131039225

Getting Kids in Shape

Jerry never paid much attention to how much physical activity he engaged in. However, one day he played basketball while wearing a small activity tracker called a Zamzee on his waist. Later, he plugged the device into his computer's USB port and uploaded the data captured by the device's accelerometers (devices to help determine the speed and distance of the person wearing the device). Unlike a FitBit (, a popular pedometer geared to adults, his Zamzee did not tell Jerry how many steps he took or how many calories he burned. Instead, it gave him points for the movement he had made:

a total of 758 points. These points are the currency that he can spend in the virtual world of, where he created an avatar representing himself. If Jerry continues to exercise, he can eventually collect enough "Z amz" to be able to purchase real items like an iPod Nano (16,000 Zamz) or a Wii console (18,000 Z amz). Jerry's experience illustrates the goals of Zamzee (www, a company that is testing the idea that the addictiveness of games can be harnessed to solve a diffi cult social problem-in this case, childhood obesity. The concept is called gamifi cation, which is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context to engage users and solve problems. Rather than focusing on weight loss or diet, Zamzee hopes to reward movement of any kind in children ages 11 to 14. Zamzee has targeted this demographic because research indicates that these are the ages when physical activity drops precipitously.

Significantly, this is also the period when children adopt lifelong habits. Zamzee is a for-profit venture started by HopeLab, the nonprofit foundation funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam. Zamzee will formally launch in the fall of 2013. By mid-2013, however, pilot programs were already underway in schools and community centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Honolulu, and San Francisco. Jerry is one of the middle-school boys who have been trying Zamzee at a Boys & Girls Club in Atlanta. Georgia ranks second in the nation for childhood obesity, and more than half of its middle-school students fail to meet the Center for Disease Control's recommendations for daily activity. The situation is so serious that Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, a system of pediatric centers, recently launched an ad campaign aimed at overweight children. Zamzee concentrates on carrots rather than sticks. Parents put money into an account to fund the rewards that their children can try to earn with their Zamz (though some donors, such as the Mayo Clinic, are providing funding during the pilot tests). Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt, the author of Welcome to Your Child's Brain, praises Zamzee's focus on physical activity instead of weight.

She cautions, however, that research has revealed that intrinsic motivation outlasts extrinsic rewards. (Intrinsic motivation comes from inside an individual rather than from external rewards, such as money or grades.) With that in mind, Zamzee's developers have been testing multiple methods for motivating children. They have found that combining virtual (electronic) and monetary rewards can be successful. And the bottom line? According to Zamzee, studies confirm that kids who use Zamzee move almost 60 percent more on average than kids who do not. Sources: Compiled from "Zamzee Improves Kids' Health Using Gamification Tools from Bunch ball," Yahoo! Finance, March 8, 2013; N. Mott, "Zamzee Cracks Gamified Fitness....For the Children," Pando daily .com, October 5, 2012; M. Frazier, "Virtual World Takes on Childhood Obesity," MIT Technology Review, May 16, 2012; J. Temple, "Jury Out on Zamzee, Other Forms of ‘Gamification'," San Francisco Chronicle, February 26, 2012; H. Shaughnessy, "The Day I Knew Gamification Would be a Winner," Forbes, February 8, 2012;, accessed April 5, 2013


1. Why is Zam zee using games to help kids lose weight

2. In your opinion, would Zamzee be as successful for adult weight loss? Why or why not?

Reference no: EM131039225

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