Fitness trackers on children

I have started to notice a worrying trend.

Because of the work I do with children and young people, I am in a lot of parenting groups on social media. And, in the build up to Christmas, lots of parents, because they are loving, caring, parents who want the best for their child, are asking for recommendations on things to buy their children.

And several of the requests have been, “Which fitness tracker watch shall I get for my child?” Some of the requests have been for children as young as five.

I want you, the reader, to think about your self esteem and confidence; I want you to think about your relationship with your body. I’ve worked with hundreds of women and, with very few exceptions, their issues with their bodies started in early childhood, following a throwaway comment from an adult, a comment about their body, about them needing to exercise more to get rid of their “chubby thighs”, and that stuck with them for life, leading to a lifetime of body hatred and limited beliefs of their worthiness.

By giving a child a fitness tracker, they are getting the message that their worth is tied up in numbers:

  • How much they weigh;

  • How much they move;

  • How many calories they burn;

  • How much fat they have;

  • What clothes size they are.

You might think that this is extreme thinking. You might think, “Not my child”.

Through my Community Interest Company, I work with children as young as 4 (that’s when children start school in the UK) because it’s from the age of 3 that children start making judgements about bodies, theirs and others, and that the average 5 year old knows how to diet. My aim is to teach children to be happy with who they are, as they are, so they don’t spend a lifetime worrying that they don’t reach the numbers specified by some arbitrary document (I could wax on about government schemes wanting children to be weighed in schools but I won’t; I will, however, say, always look for where the money has come from to fund any study.). I have worked with women in their 70s who are still waiting to be that “ideal” weight before they feel they can start living the life they want, all because of a throwaway comment in their childhood, exacerbated by societal demands on how we should look.

And think about that! How we look. Do you want your child to feel that their worth is tied up in what they look like? In their weight? Or d