‘Johnny, come in and play!’ Video games better for kids than outdoor activities, study claims
A study by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently published in the Games for Health Journal, suggests that video games which wholly engage a child’s body are a good source of physical activity for children.
“What we wanted to do is we wanted to compare an active video game to how young children generally get their physical activity – unstructured outdoor play. We’ve found that the active video game did provide an active source of activity for the kids,” director of the Activity Lab of the University of Tennessee, Hollie Raynor told RT.
Scientists conducted the research on children between the ages of five and eight, who were given three accelerometers—one for the hip and one for each wrist.
Scientists monitored the children’s activity as they played outdoors and played active 20 minute video game sessions for a three week period. The participants were allowed to rest at any point, the researchers said.
The outdoor sessions took place on a playground and the video game sessions took place in front of a 40-inch television with children playing the Xbox 360 Kinect. The Kinect Adventures River Rush game was selected for the study as it involves the whole body and doesn’t require special skills, according to the researchers.
“A significant difference between active video gaming and outdoor play was found for the accelerometer located on the hip of participants, with active video gaming having a greater percentage of moderate to vigorous intensity than unstructured outdoor play,” the lab’s press-release said.
Raynor said that the new research is different and more effective than the previous studies.
“Previous studies investigating active video games had not investigated the energy expenditure of these games as compared to unstructured outdoor play. The purpose of the study was to compare energy expenditure to unstructured outdoor play,” she said in the press-release.
However, critics have argued that some studies may not be as accurate as one might hope. Ted Rall, political cartoonist and author, told RT that one should rely on common sense as there are “studies that justify just about everything.”
“Some of them are funded by industries that stand to benefit from the studies. Other times scientists try to justify their jobs by coming up with novel conclusions,” he said.
“There is a long sordid history of studies being used and financed, for example by tobacco industry and alcohol industries, to justify those industries’ activities and their profits. Whereas obviously common sense dictates that booze and smoking aren’t good for you. Science is supposed to be the search for truth. But unfortunately some of the studies serve to obfuscate the truth.”