Friday, 20 November 2015

Can sport-based active video games help children’s physical skills in the real world?

SPHPM’s Associate Professor John Reynolds has co-authored a paper with researchers from Deakin University, exploring the effects of playing sport active video games on children’s perceived and actual object control abilities.

Data collected in 2011 and 2012 demonstrated that only one in five children in Australia met the physical activity guidelines and screen recommendations. The increasing number of children engaging in sedentary behaviour and the association between lack of physical activity and the global burden of disease highlights the need to understand how this public health issue can be better addressed.

There is a need to implement change that can be easily undertaken by children and is likely to be consistently followed. As such, the authors of this study suggested the possibility of sport-based active video games.

There are certain sports-based active video games where the player must physically act out the sports skill, indicating the potential for active video games to assist in developing movement skills. Currently, 50 per cent of children do not learn fundamental movement skills (e.g throwing, jumping), even by the time they reach mid high school. Children who are not exposed to these activities become more at risk of developing a sedentary lifestyle.

Past studies have examined the use of sport-based active video games as a method of encouraging physical activity. Results gleaned that sport-based active video games are generally practised for basic enjoyment, rather than following a rewards based system.

However a current lack of data examining whether playing sports-based active video games could influence and improve children’s perceived and actual object control abilities.

The authors hypothesised that children’s perceived and actual skills would increase through the playing of active games at the commencement of the study.

A total of 95 children aged from four to eight years old within Australia took part within the study. Within the intervention group, children played sport-based active video games for a period of six weeks.

A test of Gross Motor Development was used to evaluate object control skill. A Pictorial Scaledof Perceived Movement Skill Competence was also used to assess perceived object control skill of the children involved in the study. While object control skill did improve over the six weeks, the authors identified no significant difference between the intervention group and other groups in improvement levels.

Furthermore, sport-based active video games did not influence perceived object control skills. While children did report enjoying the activity, a majority of them did identify equivalence between real activities and playing active video games.

The authors concluded that playing s[port-based active video games can encourage children to engage in sport, however the time spent playing video games does not have a likelihood of bettering their skills.

You can read the paper here.

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