Virtual Playgrounds

By Kasey Crispin | November 27, 2007 | 0 comments

Critics often charge that new technologies—especially TV and video games—have replaced the good old outdoors with virtual environments, contributing to a more sedentary lifestyle… and, by extension, the obesity epidemic among kids.

But as Tara Parker-Pope reports in today's New York Times, some new video games actually require physical activity. Parker-Pope cites that a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that some of these new active video games, like Dance Dance Revolution and Nicktoons Movin' Jellyfish Jam, cause users to burn more calories than they would walking on a treadmill.

Parker-Pope also addresses parents' concern that video games interfere with time that could be spent with friends and family. A study done at the University of Texas investigated this by comparing how 1,500 adolescents (video gamers and non-players) spent their time. Overall, they found no significant difference between the amount of time the players and non-players spent with their family and friends.

Fischer-Price recently introduced their new active video game called the Smart Cycle. It is geared for three to six year olds and enables the child to control the game by pumping specially designed pedals. Nonethelesss, Parker–Pope also notes that:

The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under three shouldn't spend any time in front of the television or video games. And parents who do buy video games should still make sure that a child's overall media diet of computer use, television, and video games does not exceed the academy's recommendation of less than one to two hours a day.

Like anything else, kids should take their video games in moderation. And while the modern toys of today can't always offer all that the outdoors can, at least a few are trying.

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About The Author

Kasey Crispin is a Greater Good editorial assistant.


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