Recently a study was done on children playing healthy video games. In the game, the goal was to eat healthy foods and avoid unhealthy foods in a pac man style game. 30 kids were studied and played the game for 10 minutes and then were allowed to choose a snack. In the control group, they chose their snack before playing the game.
In the healthy game group, 90% chose at least one healthier snack to eat or drink compared with 60% of controls.
They mixed the game up and therefore gave points for unhealthy foods and took points away for healthy foods. In this version, only 10% chose a healthier snack versus the controls.
The majority of kids seemed to understand the intent of the game — whether Pac-Man wanted them to eat healthy foods — and said they liked it. This is important because some older health related games may be boring for kids, especially if dumbed down to emphasize a message.
A related advice-for-parents area in the article recommends the following:
- Cut back on kid’s time spent interacting with media, such as television, to increase their time spent on other activities, such as playing outside, and reduce the number of unhealthy food messages received.
- Teach young people how to understand and interpret advertisements.
- Talk to children about how advertisements can influence their food choices.