Did you know the first smartphone (The Simon Personal Communicator) was released in August of 1994? There were no app stores back then, but the 1-pound phone came pre-installed with an address book, calculator, calendar, appointment scheduler, world clock and an electronic notepad. It could even send/receive faxes and emails too. Today our phones have apps that allow you to watch tv, monitor security footage and even check in for flights.
One app that I recently became aware of is called “Kurbo” by WW (formally Weight Watchers). Kurbo is designed to teach children (between ages 8 and 17) how to use what WW calls the traffic light system for eating. It seems like a great app, but it has already stirred up criticism. There's an online petition signed by 110,000+ people to have Kurbo removed. I wanted to dig a little deeper with this app so I gave it a try myself.
I do like the layout of the app and how it's set up. You can chat with a coach who's certified through Kurbo (monthly subscription), track what you consume or explore other content from the home screen. I am curious about their certification process though. I wouldn't want my kid receiving advice from someone who only took a 5 question true or false test and is considered certified. Other than that, the entire sign up process is easy peasy! You can sign up as a parent to support your child or as a child who’s at least 13 years of age to use it without adult supervision. The design or look of the app is kid friendly for sure.
I honestly dislike the idea of WW adding before and after photos of a few kids to their testimonials. That alone is probably why so many parents want the app taken down. Maybe WW's focus is on teaching kids the nutritional value of foods but was marketed or described incorrectly in their app description. The photos themselves could potentially open a door for children to start or continue comparing themselves to other kids. No child should feel guilty about eating certain things or become obsessed with exercising to the point of purging or fasting to make up for eating something that's under Kurbo's red light category. Kids today already deal with peer pressure, body shaming, bullying and are constantly worrying about how they look to their peers. Although you can choose other goals like getting stronger and fitter or boosting confidence on WW's new app, it seems like Kurbo is designed to slightly mimic Weight Watchers for adults. Side by side photos are often used to make a weight loss and/or a mass gain visual comparison in the fitness industry. When Kurbo was first released, it was placed in the weight loss category before being changed to the health and fitness category recently which could be a possibility. Parents who let their children use the app should proceed with caution though. We don't want our kids to begin anything close to dieting unless a Pediatrician and/or Dietician makes that recommendation based on the health concerns of that child.
Keep this in mind: There are plenty of kids who don't have access to foods that are of nutritional value. Restricting foods from healthy children who have access to these foods is not a great idea. If you decide to use Kurbo, your little has to understand that there are no bad foods even if it sits in the red category. This should be the focus whether Kurbo is being used or not:
Remember that kids are constantly growing. That's the most important thing to remember.
Take them grocery shopping and let them help prepare what you buy.
Cut down the screen time. Encourage playtime, movements and fun activities. If little dude or little dudette asks for a popsicle, it's cool if they have one. You don't have to make them eat broccoli pops. 😎