Taking away video games doesn't make kids more active
How do you get a video-game-obsessed child moving? Many parents are facing this dilemma now that kids are on summer vacation, and the response of many is to try to force their kids outside by limiting their video game time Unfortunately, according to a study published in BMJ Open, banning video games doesn't necessarily improve children's activity levels.
This study observed 56 children, aged 10 to 12, over a three-year period. The researchers studied the kids’ activity over three separate eight-week periods. Three conditions were set up: electronic games were banned at home, traditional sedentary electronic games were permitted, or active electronic games (such as Xbox Kinect) were permitted.
The results found that replacing the traditional video games with active-type games resulted in a 3.2 minute-per-day increase in physical activity, but decreased sedentary times by 6.2 minutes-per-day. In another scenario, where electronic games were banned entirely, activity rose by 3.8 minutes-per-day and but sedentary times decreased by only 4.7 minutes.
The results should not be surprising – kids like to play video games. What is interesting about this study, though, is that the active video game scenario improved activity more than banning gaming altogether.