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Using Gaming to Encourage Healthy Habits

written by: Deb Killion • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 2/18/2014

Nearly every kid today plays video games, and most parents believe they play too much. However, gaming can be used to encourage healthy habits, and even boost energy levels and encourage teamwork. Learn more about how to transform your child's gaming habit into a healthy habit.

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    How Gaming Can Encourage Healthy Habits Kids love games. Some love them too much. Parents worry that they are on them too often, what they are being exposed to, what it is doing to their thought processes, their ability to think for themselves, and other issues. But is there a way to use gaming, the thing they love, to encourage healthy habits? Think about these ideas to start. You may be surprised at some of the conclusions you come to.

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    Encouraging Healthy Gaming Habits

    Read About How Gamification is Being Used in Business & Education: Gamification is the process of using gaming in the workplace to encourage high-level thinking, as well as on-the-job strategies and cooperation. Games are often used by high-profile companies and corporations to encourage teamwork and work tasks. Google is one of these companies which uses this idea to enhance a feeling of cooperation and creativity. Many other companies are moving toward this too.

    The idea is also being explored in educational settings to help children become more engaged in learning. The concept behind the ideas is that gaming can be used to enforce positive work and study habits. Think about how this idea can work with your child; are there educational games your child might like to play? Could using the reward of video games encourage better productivity in completing their homework?

    Check into gaming consoles that use physical activity into their platform. The Wii is one system that uses a handheld remote which emulates actual pitching, throwing and running actions, in various sporting games, to actually give a workout to the user as they are playing the game. Other platforms, such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360, are following suit and developing games which actually incorporate some form of physical activity within the platform.

    Encourage the use of games which boost energy levels by increasing adrenaline and other natural chemicals in the body and brain. While video gaming has been blamed in the past for an increase in childhood obesity, a new study suggests that playing high-energy games actually increasing activity levels in the brain and body, leading to an increase in metabolism and activity in general.

    While playing games for extended periods of time is never recommended, some moderate levels of video game playing (non-violent, of course) may actually help with some issues regarding activity levels and obesity. However, since the research is so marginal in significance, it should never replace actual physical exercise as the best way to increase activity and burn fat and caloric intake.

    Gaming may encourage teamwork. As mentioned before, gamification is used in business to encourage a sense of teamwork and creativity. The same can be true of gaming for kids, if used responsibly. Some games, such as time management games, can help kids build a sense of completing tasks on time, organizational games can help kids be more organized in their thinking or tasks, and games that involve more than one player in teams can enhance their understanding of teamwork. This in turn may be a good addition to actual sports and physical games, because it focuses on the collaborative aspect of sports and games.

    Gaming increases creativity. Sometimes a great way to encourage creativity is to allow kids to create their own fitness games. Purdue University conducted a research project in which they allowed kids to come up with games which would increase kids’ level of physical activity. By getting them directly involved in the process of game-creation, they take an active part in the activities themselves and help develop innovative ideas that will also help other kids to stay fit.

    The time may have come to rethink your position on video gaming. Perhaps the old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” applies here. Use the technology your kids love to help them create healthier habits, instead of viewing it as a symbol of sloth or a point of tension.

References

Adaptation Skills in School

Every child has to navigate both social and academic challenges at school. Find help for common issues facing children today, from text anxiety to dealing with teachers and developing healthy habits.
  1. Helping a Child Cope with Test Anxiety
  2. When Your Child Does Not Like His or Her Teacher
  3. How to Encourage Your Child to Keep Fit in the Technology Age
  4. Using Gaming to Encourage Healthy Habits