He Said She Said – Active Games Equals Active Gamers?

Slasher443 and Digital Distraction here and this time around, we’re responding to a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics regarding active games and children.

He Said

Hey good people!

According to this study from the journal Pediatrics, active video games such as Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution will not make your child more active than children who play non-active games.

“These results provide no reason to believe that simply acquiring an active video game under naturalistic circumstances provides a public health benefit to children.”

I love how they say simply acquiring an active video game is not enough.  I acquired a treadmill about ten years ago.  It didn’t work for me either.  I plugged it in and everything!   Has it come to the point where we have to tell people this?  Are there parents out there that believe Wii Sports is going to make their child into a hall of fame athlete?  Somebody cancel my fight with Anderson Silva!  I don’t think UFC Personal Trainer for Kinect is enough anymore!

Active video games are not intended to be your main exercise routine.    At best, they are a fun distraction from your main routine. But, I hope parents do not use this as an excuse to stop buying active games.

Jumping around and flailing your arms may not make you an Olympian but it is still better than nothing.  Not all kids are athletically inclined.  You do not have to be great at catching and throwing to play active video games.  Therefore you can get more kids involved.  Not all kids have a safe place to play.  Not all kids have parents or other adults who help them to become active and teach them to eat right.  If the best you can get them to do is to dance to Lady Gaga with a plastic stick in their hands then, for the love of Kratos, let them dance!  Also, there are other benefits

•Video game playing introduces children to computer technology;

•Games can give practice in following directions;

•Some games provide practice in problem solving and logic;

•Games can provide practice in use of fine motor and spatial skills;

•Games can provide occasions for adult and child to play together;

•Players are introduced to information technology;

•Some games have therapeutic applications with patients;

•Games are entertaining.

From Education.com

She Said

After taking a look at Slasher443’s information, I’m not sure why this study needed funding.  Here’s the objective:

This naturalistic study tests whether children receiving a new (to them) active video game spontaneously engage in more physical activity than those receiving an inactive video game, and whether the effect would be greater among children in unsafe neighborhoods, who might not be allowed to play outside.

So these researchers wanted to test if playing active games like, Kinect Sports or Just Dance for the Wii, made children decide to be more active when they weren’t playing the games.  That’s like asking me if I made a simulation on a computer that gets a child to clean up their virtual room, then they’d be more inclined to actually clean it in real life.

It’s not going to happen, why?  Because reality is the worst game EVER!

All jokes aside, children who play active games can decide when to play and when to stop.  There is no pressure on them to perform as there might be on a team of some sort.  In most cases, others aren’t depending on them and the game is seen as a source of fun.

RESULTS: There was no evidence that children receiving the active video games were more active in general, or at anytime, than children receiving the inactive video games. The outcomes were not moderated by parent perceived neighborhood safety, child BMI z score, or other demographic characteristics.

As far as being active with the games, I defy anyone to watch a person of any age playing Dance Dance Revolution, Dance Central, or many of the other motion controlled titles, and say that they are not actually exercising or being active.

If I am comparing a child who sits on the couch playing Mario to a child playing bowling on the Wii, then I’d say that the child who is bowling is more active by virtue of the fact that they are moving their bodies to achieve a goal in the game.  We’re not talking about those of you who cheat at that game and remain seated.

The tricky thing about the newest craze of motion controlled games and exercise is that there are titles that are specifically made for working out.  The issue is, they aren’t aimed at, nor designed for children.  To say that active video games provide no health benefit at all is a false statement to me.  If a game can get a child up and moving around instead of zoning out while completely stationary, then I believe that it’s a positive activity.

I don’t feel that video games should completely replace things like going to the park, riding a bike, flying a kite, etc.  But what happens if the weather doesn’t permit these activities?  What if you are the oldest sibling and you just don’t like those other kids enough to spend time with them outside of the house?  What if your grandparents are babysitting after school?

For those questions, video games are a great answer, but please use caution.  Follow all safety notices that are listed by the manufacturers and for the love of all creation, do NOT have my grandmother singing or dancing to Poker Face.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tatiana Caldwell
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 12:37:30

    I dare one of these researchers to put on Dance Central 2 in Fitness Mode, and play one of the non-stop routines they have on there on hard level and tell me they are not being active while they are playing. My favorite indoor exercises are aerobics, and a lot of the moves in these dancing games are very similar to the moves in my aerobics DVDs. In fact, I’d argue that I work harder in 45 minutes on DC2 than I do in the same amount of time on almost every aerobics routine I own.

    But anyways, back to the kids. I disagree that being active in a game has absolutely no bearing on whether or not a child is more active (outside of the game). My children actually developed a greater interest in bowling, table tennis, darts and obstacle courses after playing simulated versions of these in games. I believe the real reason the kids in these studies aren’t actually becoming active in real life sports and activities is because they’re parents aren’t trying to get them involved in them. Whether or not they have active video games has little to do with whether or not a child actually gets to go to Martial Arts class or not – did mommy or daddy take them there? This study was pointless.


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