Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Active Video Games May Not Get Kids More Active

Dancing or Sports Video Games May Not Influence Children’s Physical Activity
WebMD Health News

wii controller

Feb. 27, 2012 -- Giving children an “active” dancing or sports video game may not necessarily make them more active.

A new study shows that children given active video games were no more physically active than those given more stationary video games.

Researchers say the results call into question the health benefit of so-called active video games, in which players use their bodies to simulate sports or dancing.

Previous laboratory studies have shown some increase in physical activity in children given active video games.

But researchers say their study offers no reason to believe that giving children an active game under normal circumstances at home will increase their physical activity.

Active vs. Inactive Video Games

In the study, published in Pediatrics, researchers gave 87 children aged 9-12 years old a Wii game console and either two active video games or two inactive video games. The active video games included games in which players dance or use their bodies to simulate sports like bowling or boxing.

The children kept logs of their play times and wore an accelerometer to measure their physical activity levels over a 12-week period.

The results showed that children who were given active games were not more physically active in general or at any time than the other children, even though they said they liked the active games.

The results were the same regardless of whether the children were overweight or if they lived in an unsafe neighborhood and were not allowed to play outside.

Researchers say the children either opted not to play the active games at the same level of intensity as in the lab studies or they chose to be less active at other times of the day to compensate for the increased activity.

This study was designed to recreate a natural environment in which children were given a new video game console and no instructions on what to play.

But researchers say previous studies have shown that providing explicit instructions to use active video games appears to increase physical activity, which could make the games useful as part of a set of healthy interventions.

Today on WebMD

preschool age girl sitting at desk
look at my hand
woman with cleaning products
young boy with fever

worried kid
boy on father's shoulder
Child with red rash on cheeks
girl thinking

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

WebMD Special Sections