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Active video games in schools and effects on physical activity and health: a systematic review

journal contribution
posted on 08.03.2016, 13:54 by Emma Norris, Mark Hamer, Emmanuel Stamatakis
Objective To assess the quality of evidence for the effects of school active video game (AVG) use on physical activity and health outcomes. Study design Online databases (ERIC, PsycINFO, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science) and gray literature were searched. Inclusion criteria were the use of AVGs in school settings as an intervention; assessment of at least 1 health or physical activity outcome; and comparison of outcomes with either a control group or comparison phase. Studies featuring AVGs within complex interventions were excluded. Study quality was assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool. Results Twenty-two reports were identified: 11 assessed physical activity outcomes only, 5 assessed motor skill outcomes only, and 6 assessed both physical activity and health outcomes. Nine out of 14 studies found greater physical activity in AVG sessions compared with controls; mostly assessed by objective measures in school time only. Motor skills were found to improve with AVGs vs controls in all studies but not compared with other motor skill interventions. Effects of AVGs on body composition were mixed. Study quality was low in 16 studies and moderate in the remaining 6, with insufficient detail given on blinding, participation rates, and confounding variables. Conclusions There is currently insufficient evidence to recommend AVGs as efficacious health interventions within schools. Higher quality AVG research utilizing randomized controlled trial designs, larger sample sizes, and validated activity measurements beyond the school day is needed.


E.N. is funded by a University College London Crucible doctoral studentship.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Journal of Pediatrics


NORRIS, E., HAMER, M. and STAMATAKIS, E., 2016. Active video games in schools and effects on physical activity and health: a systematic review. Journal of Pediatrics, 172, pp. 40-46.


© Elsevier


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