It has been proven that motor-enriched educational activities can improve academic motivation and success for young children. However, incorporating physical activity into educational media has also shown positive impacts on children’s motivation, attention and comprehension. For example, before interactive video games, children remained sedentary- treating the experience as “downtime” instead of a learning opportunity. In a recent experiment, elementary students were assigned to either an experimental condition where they played active video games to learn astronomy, or a control group playing inactive astronomy-based video games. Although the content of the video game was identical for both groups, in the experimental condition the students were attached to a GZ Pro-Sport Stepper which functioned as the controlling device for the video game. Therefore, in order for the game to progress, the player must continuously move and exercise throughout the entire play period. Not only did children in the experimental group show a higher level of situational interest, they also performed significantly better on the post-test compared to the control group.
It is fair to say that the development of video game technologies that incorporate physical activity with educational content is not only attractive, but effective. In an additional study, Mellecker and associates (2013) were interested in whether active video game play resulted in effectual learning of nutritional concepts for elementary-aged children. The students participated in a 10-week “Footgaming” initiative where they used a wireless footpad designed to impersonate a mousepad to control the video game. Their nutritional knowledge was assessed as a baseline and was again assessed after the 10-week initiative. Mellecker et al (2013) founded that learning is more pronounced when using physically active technology for elementary aged children. Moreover, using educational media as a tool to increase physical activity in youth can increase their energy expenditure compared to non-active alternatives – which can also surge free-living physical activity and improve overall body composition.
Overall, it is clear that this generation has spent more time behind screens than any generation prior. Although these artifacts are still considered effective modes for learning- the learning is more pronounced when we keep our children active at the same time!
Foley, L. & Maddison, R. (2019). Use of active video games to increase physical activity in children: a (virtual) reality? Pediatric Exercise Science, 22(1),7-20.
Mellecker, R. R., Witherspoon, L., & Waterson, T. (2013). Active Learning: Educational Experiences Enhanced Through Technology-Driven Active Games. Journal of Educational Research, 106,352-359.
Sun, H. & Gao, Y. (2015). Impact of an educational video game on children’s motivation, science knowledge, and physical activity. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 5, 239-245.