Zamzee Activity Meter

Zamzee activity meters
Zamzee

With the Zamzee activity meter and its accompanying website, kids can record their daily physical activity to earn points, prizes, and bragging rights. The Zamzee is easy to use and packed with kid appeal. Real kids helped create Zamzee, and it shows.

Zamzee Activity Meter: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to use, online and off
  • Built-in USB makes data upload and battery charging simple
  • Website is fun and appealing for kids
  • Records all kinds of physical activity and its intensity
  • Strong incentive for kids
  • Safe community offerings

Cons:

  • Must log in to website to see activity
  • Will take some time to earn biggest prizes
  • Costlier than a basic pedometer
  • Requires a laptop or computer with a USB port

Review: Zamzee Activity Meter

Sometimes it takes a little bit of new technology to encourage kids to play the old-fashioned way—with lots of running, jumping, climbing, and stretching. Zamzee builds on kids' natural interest in rewards, competition, community, and yes, technology to prompt physical activity.

It's very easy to get started. Once you buy your child a meter [2015 update: the meter is now only available via community partners, such as health insurers and clinics], you can sign him up for an account on Zamzee.com, and download and install the Upload Center. Using the built-in USB, plug the meter into your computer. It will automatically read the latest activity data and begin recharging the meter.

Be aware that the initial charging can take a few hours (at least in our experience), but after that the Zamzee will hold a charge for two weeks.

Having the USB built right into the meter is very helpful; who among us needs another charging station or cord?! We also appreciated the Zamzee's slim profile and handy clothing/shoelace clip.

It's much easier to use than the clip on another activity tracker we tested.

Once your child has an account on Zamzee, she can customize her avatar. This was a big hit with my seven-year-old. There are lots of choices for facial features, hair, clothing, and extras (from baseball bats to backpacks to pets and even custom backgrounds). Many choices are free. Others will set you back 50 to 200 Zamz, the currency of Zamzee.

Each time your child plugs her meter in, she'll see her new Pointz tally online. The Pointz total is based on how much activity the meter has recorded since the last upload—not just steps taken, but all kinds of activity, and intensity level matters too. I think this concept is a little hard for kids to grasp, but all they really need to know is that active play is good, and playing hard is even better.

A cute extra: Kids can announce what kind of activity they did on the site with announcements called Whamz. For safety reasons, kids don't have free rein to type in their own Whamz.

Instead, they choose from a menu of choices that range from straightforward (swimming or skateboarding) to silly (Gaga ball or puddle jumping), and they can add where they played (at the park; underwater; in a convertible) and how ("like a boss", "with unstoppable power"). Again, my seven-year-old found it hilarious to be able to compose a Wham like: "Living the dream at Hogwarts and making it epic!"

On the site, your child can see a running activity report, with total Pointz, lifetime minutes of activity, badges unblocked, and so on. Parents can also set up a Family view, allowing them to see reports for multiple kids' Zamzees. Your child can also view a leaderboard of other Zamzee participants and their activity levels. For some kids, this opportunity for competition could be really inspiring.

Other kids might respond better to material goods, and they can earn those too. As they earn Pointz, kids achieve Goalz, which in turn are converted into Zamz. Kids can also unlock Zamz by taking on and passing movement-based challenges. And then all those Zamz can be exchanged for rewards. The robust rewards catalog includes goodies like iPod Nanos and Shuffles, plush toys, gift cards, and even charitable donations.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.

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