Playing on computers can help motivate kids to become healthier and fight obesity, a new study has shown.
The research, supported by the Football Association and carried out by Loughborough University, looked at the effects of school children using social media site www.footee.com (Footee) and how it can help combat pupil obesity.
Time spent sat online in front of a computer has traditionally been seen to be at odds with a healthy child lifestyle. However, the groundbreaking research has shown that online screen time can successfully motivate children to increase physical activity and boost their health.
The study compared a test group of schools (who were exposed to the Footee site) to a control group of schools (who had no exposure to the site). The report shows that pupils from the test group schools exhibited increased physical activity, and also gained an improved attitude towards this type of activity - compared to the control groups.
These findings challenge the commonly held belief that online social gaming can be detrimental to child participation in healthy physical activity and sport - and indicate that such online environments, when appropriately designed, can stimulate young people to become generally more active, not less.
Result and survey highlights:
- Physical activity levels were 39.2% higher during the 4 week intervention in the TEST schools - compared to a 14.2% increase exhibited by the CONTROL schools.
- Girls from the TEST schools showed a 34.1% increase in positive responses to the question “I look forward to PE” - compared to a 1.6% increase shown by girls from the CONTROL schools.
The study concluded that: ‘www.footee.com can be used as a successful tool to increase physical activity and increase motivation for sport participation in young children, leading a way to help prevent and reduce the current childhood obesity epidemic.’
Footee has been designed for 7-13 year olds and contains over 200 National Curriculum-linked educational games across multiple subjects. The key (unique) feature that generated such positive study results is a system which allows teachers and parents to manually reward children with “virtual rewards” for health-benefitting “real-world” behaviours - via a control panel in the site.
Donna McIvor, FA National Football Development Manager (Education), said,
“The results clearly show that the benefits of www.footee.com extend beyond the well established online educative experience to impact positively on children’s day to day physical health, fitness and engagement with football.
The report details that there were ‘drastic improvements in the number of pedometer steps taken by pupils exposed to the website and the associated reward scheme.’ and also that ‘it can be hypothesized that if such a scheme was to be implemented in the long term, the physical activity levels of primary school children could be drastically improved.’
We believe that the implication of these findings is likely to have a long term and far reaching impact on the way in which the internet is used to improve all aspects of a child’s wellbeing, both mental and physical.”
For further information and to recieve a copy of the full research study report please contact: