Wii can’t fix couch potato kids

Active video games won’t make your kids any fitter or decrease the amount of time they spend sitting in front of a screen new research has revealed.

This is not because active video games don’t result in kids moving more – they do – it’s because in the ‘real world’ kids simply aren’t interested in playing them.

The research, presented yesterday at Sports Medicine Australia’s be active 2014 conference, found that despite active video games demonstrating potential to increase activity levels in a laboratory environment, they are not successful at helping children to be more physically active in everyday life.

Professor Leon Straker of the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University compared a number of laboratory and field studies to determine if current active video games could help increase rather than decrease children’s daily activity levels.

“In the laboratory study we compared the amount of movement, muscle activity, heart rate, breathing rate and energy used when playing an active video game and traditional video game,” Professor Straker said.

“As expected, the lab study confirmed children moved more and used more energy when playing active video games than traditional games.”

In the field study, the level of daily activity children undertook was compared when they had home access to active video games, home access to traditional sedentary games and no access to video games at all.

“We found that replacing sedentary games with active video games or banning all video games totally made little difference to how physically active kids were across the day,” Professor Straker said.

“Unfortunately it seems that in the ‘real world’ kids don’t find active video games interesting enough. Instead, they got bored and then tended to go off and engage in other sedentary leisure activities.

“This also seemed to be the case with banning video games completely – instead of replacing the time that would have been spent in front of screen with something more active, kids preferred to stick with another form of sedentary behavior.

“Rather than rely on active video games to increase activity, this study shows parents may be better off limiting sedentary games and trying to engage children in more active leisure pursuits.

“Parents, health, education and child development professionals need to examine multiple ways to help children sit less and move more.”

For more information on be active 2014 (15 – 18 October, Canberra): www.beactive2014.org


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Georgia Brumby, National Media Manager: 0401 097 176

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