3 November 1999


by Kate Melville

Researchers at the University of Miami are conducting a study that measures the biological responses of children while playing video games.

The impact of video games on children is something that many parents (and politicians) seem to worry about. So far most emphasis has been on the potential psychological effects of playing hours of video games, but what are the physiological impacts? Quite simply do video games lead to higher stress levels and other health risks in young people?

"We've already seen an inverse relationship between the amount of time spent watching TV and the obesity levels in kids," said Arlette Perry, who is leading the study. "We want to see if video games are as bad as TV in terms of decreasing metabolic rates."

Perry's study involves 20 boys ages 7 to 9 who are closely monitored while they play video games. Researchers selected boys only to eliminate gender variables in physiology. Instruments monitor the children's heart rate, respiration and blood pressure (as well as how many calories are being burned and other factors that may change when children are stimulated by the games).

Preliminary results indicate a significant difference between children watching playing video games and watching television. Perry has observed that while playing video games, children's glucose and stress levels as well as their metabolic rate increase.

Perhaps the final results will show that video games are actually more beneficial than TV and e can just see new age weight loss salons where dieters shed kilos while working out on the latest Sega or Nintendo 'exercise console'.