December 09, 2010
Video Game Make Kids Eat More Vegetables

Today video games to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. But this is just a first step. Why not video games to advance political agendas? When will political factions and financial interests fund video games to promote lifestyles and support for political positions? Why not video games to encourage kids to become investment bankers, hedge fund managers, or special forces soldiers, or believers in a religion?

San Diego, CA, December 7, 2010 Obesity in youngsters has risen dramatically in recent decades. Fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption and increased water intake can lower the risk of obesity, as can increased physical activity, but it is not always easy to convince children to eat better and exercise more. In a new study published in the January 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that video games designed to encourage these behaviors were effective.

"Escape from Diab" (Diab) and "Nanoswarm: Invasion from Inner Space" (Nanoswarm) are epic video games specifically designed to lower risks of type 2 diabetes and obesity by changing youth diet and physical activity behaviors. Designed by Archimage, Inc., and funded by a Small Business Initiative Research Grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, Diab and Nanoswarm are based on social cognitive, self-determination, and persuasion theories.

Hey, if video games can get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables surely they can convince young, impressionable, gullible, naive kids to support public transit, saving trees, more aircraft carriers, or socialized health care.

Children playing these video games increased FV consumption by about 2/3 serving per day, but did not increase water consumption or moderate to vigorous physical activity, or improve body composition. Despite the increase, FV and water consumption and physical activity remained below the minimum recommendations.

What I wonder: In the longer run will technological advances enhance or degrade the ability of parents to control the environments that children experience growing up? 30 years from now will parents have more or less control over what their kids learn and what cultural influences reach them?

One can imagine a large market of educational games and virtual environments where parents choose what their kids learn and what influences get thru to them. Will 10 year olds have the equivalent of full access to the web 30 years from now? Or will they access heavily controlled and customizable subsets? Will specialized A.I.s filter what reaches each kid?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 December 09 11:41 PM  Brain Conditioning


Comments
PacRim Jim said at December 10, 2010 1:05 AM:

Video Game Make Kids Eat More Vegetables

Might I suggest removing "Eat More"

B.B. said at December 10, 2010 1:27 AM:

Why not video games to encourage kids to become investment bankers

Already been done, 20 years ago no less.

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