Wii Missed the Point
Many of the middle school kids with whom I work are constantly tied to a computer. If they are not playing on their desktop at home they have a hand held system at their disposal in the school. Technological advancements aside, and yes they are important, the downside of being on the computer constantly is a very low threshold for physical activity.
Not every kid is going to be great at sports or even want to play them, but physical fitness is a necessary condition both for current and future health and overall functioning.
The Nintendo Wii is being marketed as a fitness system/program that will reinvent fitness for young populations. Recent research has also suggested that children with autism respond well to computer-based learning and activities. I have to argue that a few fundamental aspects of fitness are being missed. First, real physical fitness requires vigorous movement, preferably outside or in a relatively open space where a child (or adult) can move freely and explore different movement patterns. Second, at a basic level fitness activities make you aware of your environment. Being “linked” to a screen takes away that primal/innate aspect of movement. Thirdly, and perhaps most crucially for children with autism, the socialization component of fitness, whether with an instructor, parent, or peers, is lost when it is “Jason vs. the console.”
Obviously I am not writing this manifesto from a cabin in the woods. New technology, particularly those that aid in education and exposure to new ideas should be embraced. If you want to use the Wii as a reinforcer, or a leisure activity, rock out. It should not, however, be the cornerstone of a fitness program.