Study Finds That Active Video Gaming May Be As Good For Kids As Playing Outside

Researchers at the University Of Tennessee At Knoxville have confirmed what my kids believe they already know – that some video gaming can be as physically intense for younger gamers as playing outside.

Before you let your toddlers have a four-hour Minecraft session, however, check out the methodology:

During a three-week period, each child engaged in one active video gaming session and one unstructured outdoor playtime. Each session lasted 20 minutes, and participants could stop and rest at any point.The outdoor play session took place on a playground with two grassy areas, a small paved area, a climbing tree, hula hoops, playground equipment and an assortment of balls. Children were allowed to participate in any type of activity.

The active video gaming session took place with a 40-inch television and the Xbox 360 Kinect, a controller-free gaming system that incorporates the whole body in the game through motion sensors and skeletal tracking. The Kinect Adventures River Rush video game was selected for the study as it involves total body participation, requires no special set of skills to play and was rated E for everyone, by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

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 strengths of the UT study include the use of two measurement tools considered to be very accurate at measuring activity,” said Hollie Raynor, director of UT’s Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory. “No one else has used measures with this degree of accuracy in comparing active video gaming with outdoor play in young children. We’re not saying video games should replace outdoor play, but there are better choices people can make when choosing the types of video games for their children.”

That’s right: a good, energetic Kinect session was as if not more exhausting for the tykes than playing outside. You’ll note, however, they said “active gaming” as opposed to passively flipping birds at pigs on your iPad while the sun is shining. That burns nothing and, in fact, it could prove detrimental to the health of your wee ones. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go browse Facebook for the thirtieth time today.