“Active” Video Games Don’t Make Kids More Active

Playing video games like Wii Fit Plus and Dance Dance Revolution does not increase children’s physical activity levels, according to a just-published study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

87 children between the ages of 9 and 12 participated in the study. They were assigned either to play “active” video games such as “Wii Fit Plus” and “Dance Dance Revolution,” or two “inactive” games as “Mario Kart Wii” and “Madden NFL 10.” “Active” video games were defined as those in which children “actually do physical activity while playing, such as, dancing, interactive bowling, boxing, tennis or baseball.” In contrast, “inactive” video games do not require physical to play (well, beyond moving one’s fingers to operate the controls).

Any increase in physical activity that the children had while playing the active video games did not carry over into other activities. Indeed, the researchers suggested that playing active video games could have a negative effect on children’s overall physical activity:

…because of the physical activity they were performing while playing the games, the children were less likely to be active at other times, such as, playing outside with their friends, or joining a sports team, because they would rather be inside playing video games.

Video games of whatever kind are not (says the study) conducive to getting children to be more physically active. To get kids moving, perhaps the best thing to do is exactly that: Have them get up and in motion, whether inside or outside.

In the wake of the study, researchers are questioning whether active video games provide a “public health benefit to children.” Rather than investing in Wii units and software — as more than a few school districts indeed have — the study suggests that educators would do well rather to get good old-fashioned equipment (balls, gym mats…) and create spaces in schools for children to engage in such physical activities.

Nonetheless, while noting that I find physical activities such as walking and running — preferably outdoors — the best sorts of exercise for my teenage autistic son, educators have found “active” video games beneficial for students with disabilities in special education programs. Many sports and other physical activities may be extra-challenging for such students, due to physical disabilities and intellectual functioning. Too many students with disabilities tend to be overweight and using a Wii may be the best, or the only, way to get such students exercising. “Active” video games can have their uses.

Related Care2 Coverage
Obesity in Boys Up 29 Percent: Blame the Internet?
Preschoolers Need To Get Outside And Play!
Kids With Disabilities Need P.E. Too

Photo by chipgriffin

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John Black
John Black2 years ago

Not all the games are as useful as this one

Chiris Jerrycho
Chiris Jerrycho2 years ago

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Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

Well said, Lika.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.3 years ago

I'm not surprised.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

duh. videogames are a poison

Richelle Rausch
Richelle Rausch3 years ago

Really? Kids that young are playing video games?

federico bortoletto

Grazie per l'articolo.

Monica Saucedo
Monica Saucedo3 years ago

Come on! I only shows that the study, and many who are posting comments, have never played the games, and also that they are always trying to put the blame on videogames for their lack of attention to their young. If you want kids to go outside and play and exercise, start by doing it yourselves so the kid learns by example, start by making it look fun, by not using TV as a convenient nanny, start also by setting limits in everything from the earliest ages of your children. And you know what else would be great both to bond with your kids, and educate them, to take the time to play with them, both videogames and physical games outdoors

Lika S.
Lika S.3 years ago

Of course it doesn't make kids more active. It makes them want to stay in and play more games, so they're antisocial. Thing is, you'd be surprised already how many cashiers act like they're doing you the favor for ringing you up... and these are the ones getting paid by you spending your money there.

Then there are those who don't know basic terms, and I just couldn't believe that they didn't understand the question because it was obvious what I was asking.

These are at Rogan's Shoes and Walgreens respectively.

Rogan's didn't want to help me get shoe laces when I had a bad case of pneumonia. She kept rudely staring at me because I couldn't talk, and was looking at me incredulously when I asked where the shoe laces were. I could go on, because that wasn't the end.

At Walgreen's, I needed a hair product that had a pre-conditioner with it. The gal told me just to use lotion after. Um, excuse me? PRE means BEFORE. Why would I use lotion after? Duh. And she works at a drug store...