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The Wii, Kids & Learning

By Darcy Nee

As we have seen at Kinetic Konnections®, a well-functioning body contributes to a well-functioning mind. When the body is able to function efficiently, without compensation, it allows for more energy – physical or cognitive – to do other activities, whether that is in a specific sport, to concentrate, or to write more efficiently.
The Wii Fit program with its 40 different activities helps the body practice using a wide variety of muscles appropriately, in turn lending for an enriched, mindful experience. We observed that some of these activities can help improve balance, coordination, offer cross-training and build skills that could benefit a child in the classroom.

Balance and Coordination to Build Self- Esteem
Several of the Wii Fit games challenge a child’s balance and coordination. A child who doesn’t achieve high levels can still experiences success and play the games. Furthermore, a child who experiences difficulty with a sport can learn specific skills for that game without the pressure of a team environment. The games also are great for practicing eye-hand coordination. As a result, the child’s self-esteem is boosted as he or she feels a sense of accomplishment.

Cross Training to Round Out Development
Today’s children tend to specialize in one sport or activity at earlier ages. However, we already know children develop well balanced neuromuscular function through participation in different activities. As such they should be exposed to a plethora of activities but time and cost often are barriers to that variety. We find the Wii Fit programs offer children the chance to rehearse and have fun with a wide variety of activities, from step aerobics to hula-hoops, yoga, to push ups, to lunges. The cross training helps prevent injuries too.

Building Classroom Skills
As children move through the various Wii Fit games, they must earn their way to new levels, helping them learn about motivation and rewards. The kids also have accountability through their fitness log. Each day the program measures a user’s weight and center of gravity using the balance board. Based on the player’s weight, the software calculates the user’s body mass index (BMI). The program keeps a record of each day’s activities creating accountability and helping build habits while having fun!

Overall we believe the Wii Fit offers a positive adjunct to education for today’s youth. However, there are a few cautions to be mindful of regarding use of the Wii Fit. These may change in future versions, but for now we found:

  • Some modules/games do not require proper form.
  • Most of the modules/games do not help develop social skills.
  • There is no team recognition, coping with loss or thrill of team victory. Depending upon your child this may actually be a positive.