Little Tikes rolls out the Pelican stationary bike for kids, and experts have some concerns
When the pandemic hit, lots of folks discovered Peloton. For those who don’t know, it’s a stationary bike (or tread) with the ability to do live classes along with millions of other Peloton users. It’s a cool deal for adults who stopped going to actual gym classes once COVID hit; it’s a wildly convenient way to work out since you don’t even have to leave your house — which is exactly why experts are saying a kid version from toy giant Little Tikes isn’t the best idea.
Look, the urge to get your busy preschooler to stay put long enough to get through one of Tunde’s intervals and arms rides is understandable. So Little Tikes apparently saw an opening, and is catering to parents who need to occupy their offspring long enough to work up a sweat.
That side, experts have thoughts.
“It just feels so bogus to me. And it doesn’t feel like something that kids will use a lot,” says Roberta Golinkoff, a University of Delaware professor who studies child development.
Free-range parenting advocate Lenore Skenazy concurs. “Kids want to be part of the real world,” she tells CNN Business. “A stationary bike doesn’t prepare them for anything but moving their legs in a circular motion.”
Wanting to occupy your kid and let them “be like mommy” does sound kinda nice in theory. But something about a stationary bike aimed at the 3-7 year-old set does feel… wrong. In fact, several somethings.
Like, do we really want to help our kids hop on board the intentional exercise bandwagon at such a young age? It feels practically toxic to suggest our tiny kids hop on a “bike to nowhere” at regular intervals in the way an adult would. Young kids are probably better off getting in their exercise by running around outside and riding an (actual) bike.
On that note, Little Tikes vice president of product development Kevin Bloomfield insists the Pelican isn’t meant to replace a real, outdoor bike. He says the company “created a product that would make kids happy and stay active regardless of the state of the world.” Bloomfield states that Little Tikes concluded through research that kids want to copy mom and dad on their Peloton. “We wanted to give the option for a safe and engaging experience alongside mom and dad’s stationary bike,” Bloomfield says.
However, Jason Boye, a pediatric psychologist in the Healthy Weight and Wellness Clinic at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware, says that actual little tikes using exercise equipment might do the opposite of what’s intended and make them averse to physical activity. “Kids can develop an association of being forced to do an activity and make it something they’re not interested in doing,” he says.
That said, countless studies note the benefits of exercise when it comes to kids. Regular activity can help children perform better in school, enjoy better mental health, and improve cognitive function. But according to these experts, it’s likely best to make that exercise happen at soccer practice, on the playground, or in your own backyard.
Kids have their whole lives to pedal in solitude on a bike that never leaves the house. As much fun as Cody’s Britney Spears ride is, maybe it’s best to leave that brand of exercise to the grown-ups.