As new generations of children grow and develop, technology is constantly advancing along with them. Children today have smartphones starting in elementary school and are introduced to devices with screens even younger. It is a different time, and children are playing less outside on playgrounds and more inside on their phones. However, there’s a company that wants to change this: Biba. The developer has created an app that makes playing around the playground even more fun for children ages three to nine while decreasing their time with technology.
The Biba app was developed in 2014 because of a grant from the Canadian government. The app works with any playground, but works best on playgrounds that have augmented reality markers installed. The markers allow families to unlock a suite of mobile mini-games and track their progress. These “smart” playgrounds pair with the app to give kids virtual obstacle courses and exciting activities like finding dinosaur bones that are virtually buried around the playground.
The app uses the 80/20 rule: they want children to play 80% of the time and only be looking at the screen 20% of the time. With this thought process, children will be more active and enjoy playing outside on the playground, rather than spending hours on their smart devices. It allows parents to slowly limit the amount of a time their child stares at a screen.
Children spend at least five hours a day glued to a screen, and that needs to change. Biba has been working to get children to be more active by implementing the technology they are used to with physical activity and play. They feel that a good combination of the virtual world and the real world can spark the child’s imagination and hopefully have them continue to play without their phone.
As augmented reality becomes more popular, apps like Biba are gaining popularity as well. The app can be found in the Google Play store and the iTunes store for free, giving more incentive to try it. There are over 3,000 of these playgrounds already in place around the world in places like California, New York, Canada, and Australia, with many more continuing to be built.
It will be interesting to see the future of this app. Since augmented reality is becoming more integrated into our lives in general, this app has the potential to do very well in the upcoming years. The hope is that apps like Biba will encourage children to move away from the devices and back into the real world, but whether or not incentivizing physical play with tech will make them even more dependent on technology is yet to be determined.
by Victoria Vitale