Researchers at Curtin University have developed a set of guidelines to help protect the physical and psychosocial health of children who use electronic games.
Professor Leon Straker, from Curtin University’s School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, said many children had frequent and substantial exposure to electronic games (e-games), making guidelines for use imperative.
Aspects of health potentially affected by gaming and considered in the guidelines include children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour, cardio-metabolic health, musculoskeletal health, motor coordination, vision, cognitive development and psychosocial health.
“Today, many children live in a world saturated with technology which they often use for extended periods of time,” Professor Straker said.
“Understanding this, Curtin decided to collate current research on the impact that e-games have on children’s behaviour, health and development to produce a set of recommended guidelines for their use.”
The guidelines were divided into separate recommendations for different target audiences.
Guidelines targeted towards children addressed issues such as privacy concerns, the need to choose socially interactive games and advice to break play every 30 minutes to give their bodies and eyes a rest.
Guidelines targeting parents recommended they set and enforce rules around e-game use, consider which types of games their children played to encourage positive mental health, encourage real-world physical activity and encourage good “technique” and safe playing space to avoid muscle and bone discomfort and injury.
Guidelines developed for health and education professionals recommended they educate parents about the negative effects of electronic screens in bedrooms, encourage games with demonstrated learning benefits, skill benefits or educational content and be aware of what children were doing with e-games.
“It is also recommended that the gaming industry develop and promote positive social content and games with beneficial education and learning aspects, while also providing clear information on the nature and content of game play,” Professor Straker said.
“The last point is especially relevant given the levels of violence and anti-social behaviour present in some games.
“It is important guidelines are in place to help ensure children can enjoy the fun and positive aspects of e-game use, with the least possible risk to their health and development.”