In case you hadn’t noticed, people are addicted to screens. Sadly, that addiction is spreading to children. Real play has been replaced by virtual play. Technology is not going to roll over and give up on its role in family life. It’s up to people to create a balanced life. Especially for children.
New Zealand telco, is giving Kiwi parents some help. In partnership with Gilbert Rugby; Nakatomi; child psychologist, Dr Emma Woodward; and Colenso BBDO, Spark is developing a Bluetooth-enabled smart rugby ball to help families achieve a healthy balance of screen time and active playtime. The product is currently a prototype, with a New Zealand trial underway with local families.
“Technology is not bad, it’s how we use it that might be corrosive,” stated Dr Woodward. “Play by Spark aims to help Kiwi families teach their children important self-regulation skills from a young age and become more mindful with their technology use.”
Custom-built techware inside the ball, including a gyroscope and accelerometer, tracks minutes of active playtime. The ball connects to an app that converts this to a screen time allowance, sending an alert to parents when this time runs out.
“Technology is part of everyday life and we want to help children grow up developing positive digital habits,” explained Spark’s brand experience tribe lead, Sarah Williams. “At Spark, we’re working to equip parents with the right tools – like this smart ball and app – so that technology is part of the solution.”
Over a trial period, selected New Zealand families are putting the prototype ball to the test by taking on a series of challenges designed by Dr Woodward. The ball data captured during the trial will teach Spark even more about playtime, and assist in the development of Play by Spark.
“Our children are facing a very different future to what we thought we would face so it’s important that we teach them the skills that they need in order for them to thrive and fulfil their potential. Spark is keen to support families so children develop healthy tech habits,” Dr Woodward noted.
Play by Spark launched with a TV spot by Colenso BBDO and Sweetshop director, Mark Albiston, in which young Toby takes on the difficult challenge of ending the exclusive relationship with his favourite computer game character. Be prepared to have your heart melt.
“It was important for us to look at this from a child’s point of view,” noted Dan Wright, executive creative director at Colenso BBDO. “It’s a big deal for kids. They care about the characters in their games, but they also get the need for balance. We love the idea that Play by Spark can actually give kids more control over their screen time, even while it’s doing the same for their parents.”
The campaign will also appear across OOH, social and digital. Future plans, including any potential release to the public, will be determined once the results of the trial come in next year.
Agency: Colenso BBDO
Partners: Gilbert Rugby, Nakatomi, Dr Emma Woodward
Production Partner: Sweetshop
Director: Mark Albiston
Executive Producers: Kate Roydhouse & Ben Dailey
Animation: Pete Circuit
Post Production: Creature
Sound: Franklin Rd
Photography: Troy Goodall