Children, video games and physical activity: an exploratory study

J. McDougall, Michael J. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)
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Media consumption and video gameplay can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Nevertheless, video games may have the potential to actually enhance children’s physical activity. Objective: To explore the potential of video games to contribute to children’s health and physical activity. Study group: Twelve British children (seven female, five male) aged 8-11 years. Methods: The children participated in daily video-game play during school lunch times for one week. Focus group interviews were employed, pre and post the game play week, to examine children’s perceptions of video games in relation to physical activity and health. Physical activity was assessed during all game play periods using pedometry and heart rate monitoring. Results: Pre the game play period, all children reported that video games had a negative impact on health and physical activity. Post game play, children reported that active video gameplay was an attractive alternative to traditional forms of physical activity that might be more attractive to non-exercisers. The results during the gameplay period revealed that boys and girls accumulated 10% and 11% of the recommended number of steps/day for health and also engaged in an average of 11 minutes (or 46% of the monitoring period) sustained moderate to vigorous physical activity through active video gaming each day. Conclusions: Although video games have traditionally been regarded as a negative influence on children’s physical activity, active video games may provide a viable alternative to traditional physical activity. Even a short duration of daily active video-game play can contribute significantly to children achieving the recommended daily volume of physical activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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  • pedometer
  • obesity
  • video games
  • children


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