Monday, September 22, 2014

There's an App for That Smartphone use in Health and Physical Education

Matthew Cummiskey, (Oct 2011) There’s an APP for that Smartphone use in Health and Physical Education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 82, 8; ProQuest pg. 24-29

Article Summary

Have you ever taken a second to look around to see how many people are using a phone and not just any phone, but a smartphone??  This article review written by Matthew Cummisky, shows statistics on how fast the United States population has grown in the need for technology to be at our fingertips.  Having technology close to our fingertips there are still many concerning factors of being too technology dependent.   He looks at all the variety of technology apps that are beneficial in world of teaching health and physical education.   How educators can use smartphones to get ahead of this trend by showing ways to promote life long learners.  

Smartphones in the United States continue to increase in demand.  As of right now the age group that uses smartphones the most are teenagers.  This study shown by three different groups show that children born in 1990 to today are defined by their technology and media use.   A nearly 90 percent increase in depend of usage of a smartphone. That now nearly 62 percent are able to use their smartphone in school.  When students are asked to state why are smartphones so valuable? 57 percent of students say, “Allows them to stay connected throughout the day.” Where as 59 percent of students state, “It reflects their personal style.” Overall, teenagers are view as ones using smartphones as a social status and others are finding that to be a major concern. 

Since the majority of teenagers are using smartphones there are some positive but yet, some necessary concerns with how they are using this tool.  Best part of having a smartphone is that you literately have a mini computer at the palm of your fingertips.  You can get any bit of information you want, anywhere go.  However, in this study it has shown that from 2004 to 2009 youth ages 8 to 18 have increased their screen time by total of 53 hours per week.  With the increase time spent in front of a screen, students typically aren’t using smartphones to increase physical activity but to spend time checking the weather, playing games, social networking, and music. Where as apps used on phone for personal health and own lifestyle are low on the totem pole. This is where health and physical education teachers can be leaders to promote life long health through usage of smartphones.

 Teachers looking at how to promote the use of smartphones into their classroom need to look at all the different factors.  First, looking at products apps that classroom teachers have available to them through different phone operating systems. The apple OS operating system provides the most apps, followed very closely by android, and extremely less apps provide by other operating companies.  You have to figure out what operating system works best for you and what is mostly used by your students.  There are thousands of apps and there are 12,000 apps just for health.  The best part of apps is that there are many free apps that you can download and tryout to see if it works for your needs.

Wellness teachers have already found great ways to incorporate smartphones into their teaching units.  In using technology in their physical education practices, especially these two standards: three (participates regularly in physical activity), four (achieves/maintains a health-enhancing level of physical fitness).  These three examples below will show just how easy it can be to interweave the use of apps on smartphones into the wellness classroom.   A Health teacher discussing a lesson on weight management, discussing calories and on ways to keep track of food can have students use an app to calculate calories.   Teacher involves students to download a free app on to their personal device to keep track of their calories. Another teacher allows students to develop their own workout either in the weight room or outside.  Using an app called, “MapMyRun.”  Where students could go out into the school neighborhood and run their own route. Last example, states a teacher doing yoga unit and app that has over 200 free poses to have up on the big screen to instruct the students, while the classroom teacher helps struggling students.  These examples all show ways that health and physical educators can interweave app in smartphones to demonstrate life long fitness.  These fitness don’t need to stop in the classroom but can carry on to their home life.  In the end, students will be able to find ways to continue their own life long health instead of just using smartphones for social networking and games.

All in all, educators continue to see the smartphone at the child fingertips, so why not embrace the powerful tool!!  Smartphone apps continue to develop and are free to any user to investigate.  Start small – with one class.  Experiment with that group of students and then expand from there.   Expand your parameters, because it has the potential to promote health and physical activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


I was blown away by the increase of the use in smartphones in just a short amount of time.  It’s crazy how fast technology is revolving, to constantly change to fit the need of the consumer.  What a benefit technology has for everyone in education.  I thought as a physical education teacher there wouldn’t be nearly 12,000 apps to support my practice and to find out most are free apps.  Apps that expand the walls of the classroom and show student how adults are making sure they are living a healthy lifestyle.  This approach is allowing students to get hands on experiences.  This article was great because it also provided me with two pages worth of apps that I could try right away in my program.  However, I am an elementary teacher and I know my students have phones in their bags that they could take out, not nearly the amount that upper grade level students would have.   This article was more geared to middle and high school wellness classrooms where they can use their mobile device in the classroom.   It would also eliminate it from being stolen in the locker room.  Wellness classrooms could ask students to download a free app and apply it to the lesson.  However, I wonder what complications might arise from asking students to download an app.   Then depending on what type of phone you need to make sure there is an app that would be used on all operating systems.  Not every student will have the same phone. It is truly amazing how fast you can download an app.  Using what the students already have is great tool to eliminate the worry on funding.  In the end, just another great tool that is all ready in the palm of the user.  

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