Some gamers subscribe to the theory that there are two types of games: lean back games and lean forward games. Lean back games give players the chance to relax and soak everything in from the comfort of their couch (Journey, Ori and the Blind Forest) and lean forward games keep players on the edge of their seats with an elevated heart rate (Heroes of the Storm, Destiny). Although most adult gamers recognize that even lean forward games aren’t a true source of cardio activity, a significant amount of children seem to be confused on that issue.
According to a study published in the Youth Sports Trust report, almost one in four children think that playing video games with friends qualifies as being active. Although taking down bosses in a World of Warcraft raid or fiercely competing in a game of Splatoon can both leave gamers out of breath, most of us would agree that sitting down and gaming isn’t exactly an “active” exercise.
The study had a respectable sample size, including 1,000 children between the ages of five and 16. Take a look at the results by age breakdown below.
The graph shows that children between the ages seven and eight were most likely to think of video games as exerise (at 31%) and teenagers 15-16 were far less likely to think of gaming as activity (15%). The logical next question is do younger kids believe this because they are young and uninformed (and their answers will change by the time they become teenagers) or because they are part of a new generation with a different way of thinking. Unfortunately, the results of this particular study don’t shed any light on that question.
Although the questions does specifically say “playing computer games with friends,” it is possible that these younger kids have a different definition of gaming with friends. Obviously things like Wii Fit, Xbox Fitness, and Just Dance really do qualify as activity. It doesn’t seem like the question is phrased in a way that would make the participants consider those kind of gaming experiences, but it’s hard to get into the mind of a kid.
Although Game Rant doesn’t advocate gaming as a primary source of exercise, this study doesn’t read as all doom and gloom to us. The participants who gave the surprising answer are very young and likely had a different reading of the question than intended. It would be very interesting to see the same question asked again by asking if playing video games “is exercise” rather than “is a type of exercise.”
Although many kids would prefer to stay inside and play Minecraft instead of riding bikes, we aren’t ready to blame video games for the downfall of mankind just yet. Obesity and inactivity have been a problem for much longer than the modern video game era (especially in America), so once again, correlation doesn’t exactly equal causation.
Do you think playing some video games should count as exercise? Do you think it’s troubling that some children do think it counts? Let us know in the comments.
Source: Youth Sports Trust