Location: Healthy Body Weight ResearchTitle: Active video games to promote traditional active play: increasing the reinforcing value of active play among low-active children
|FLACK, KYLE - Former ARS Employee|
|JOHNSON, LUANN - University Of North Dakota|
Submitted to: The Games for Health Journal: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2019
Publication Date: 12/3/2019
Citation: Ufholz, K.E., Flack, K., Johnson, L., Roemmich, J.N. 2019. Active video games to promote traditional active play: Increasing the reinforcing value of active play among low-active children. The Games for Health Journal: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications. https://doi.org/10.1089/g4h.2019.0040.
Interpretive Summary: Scientists at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center compared changes in motivation to play active video games, sedentary video games, and traditional active play. Sedentary children, aged 8-12, were provided with a video game system and a selection of active and sedentary video games, which they were instructed to play. Children were divided into 2 groups: one in which they were given greater autonomy and fewer restrictions over their active video game play and one in which they were given less autonomy and greater restrictions over their active video game play. It was predicted that children who received greater autonomy would show greater motivation to play active video games. A computer task was used to measure children’s motivation to play active vs. sedentary video games, as well as active video games vs. traditional active play. The autonomy groups showed similar results. Children preferred sedentary video games and traditional active play to active video games. Children’s motivation to play traditional active games remained consistent, while their motivation to play both video game types decreased. By the study’s end, children were more motivated to play active video games than sedentary video games and more motivated to play traditional active games than active video games. Overall time for both video game types dropped. Overall results suggest that playing active video games does not make children more likely to play sedentary video games and may provide them with a non-competitive environment where they can practice playing traditional active games.
Technical Abstract: Background: Exercise reinforcement predicts physical activity (PA) of children. Repeated exposures of PA may increase PA reinforcement (incentive sensitization). Active video game (AVG) play produces light to moderate-intensity PA. Ideally, AVG play would transition to non-screen based active play via incentive sensitization of traditional active play (TAP), providing AVG does not increase sedentary video game (SVG) reinforcement. Greater autonomy increases motivation towards traditional PA, but whether autonomy enhances incentive sensitization has not been studied. Objectives: To determine whether autonomy over AVG play promotes incentive sensitization of TAP or SVG. Methods: Inactive children (ages 8-12; 5th-97th BMI percentile) were provided with AVG and SVG for 6 weeks and assigned to either a high autonomy (n= 25) or low autonomy (n = 24) group, differentiated by AVG choice and more freedom over amount of play. Both groups played AVG 3 days per week. SVG were played ad libitum. Participants completed an operant responding task to measure the relative reinforcing value (RRV) of AVG vs SVG (RRV AVGvsSVG) and AVG vs. TAP (RRV AVGvsTAP) at baseline, 6 and 10 weeks. Results: RRV AVGvsSVG increased over time (p = 0.056) but did not differ by autonomy or autonomy x time (p = 0.184). RRV AVGvsTAP decreased over time (p = 0.033) but did not differ by autonomy or autonomy x time (p = 0.73). Conclusion: AVG play does not increase motivation towards SVG and increases motivation towards traditional active play. Providing higher autonomy did not promote incentive sensitization of play.