In an article originally appearing on HealthDay, Mary Marcus describes a surprising study on the Nintendo Wii and the effects it has on children being active. Despite the Nintendo Wii commonly being thought of as a healthy alternative to child video gaming, the study conducted by Dr. Tom Baranowski suggests this may not be the case.
Conducted by Dr. Baranowski of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, the study tracked the daily movements of 78 children who were given Nintendo Wiis by having them wear motion detector belts. Half of the children chose an “active” game, one that simulated dancing, boxing, etc., and the other half picked from “inactive” games, like Mario Kart Wii. After six weeks, the children were allowed to select a new game.
Dr. Baranowski expected that there would be an increase in physical activity from the children who were playing the “active” games at the beginning of the study, and then again at the midway point when the children were given a new game to play. But in contrast to his hyptothesis, Dr. Baranowski found, “there was no difference in the level of the activity between the treatment and control groups. What we detected at baseline, before playing active video games, was exactly the same in weeks one, six, seven and 12.” The results led the authors of the study to the conclusion that either the children were not playing the “active” games at the anticipated intensity level, or the children were compensating their expended energy by being less active throughout the day.
I believe that the findings of this study contradict the image of the Wii which Nintendo has created, one of fostering healthy and physically fit video game play for children. This puts the Wii in violation of the self-regulatory guidelines created in 2001 by the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus which states that toy advertising must be truthful, as described by Howard Chudacoff in “The Commercialization and Co-
“Lazy Wii Guy” from Comedy.com