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Wii Kids Move Better – Study Finds Link Between Playing Games and Motor Skills

In a pilot study, Australian researchers have discovered that pre-schoolers who play interactive video games have better motor skills than their non-playing counterparts.

In collaboration between Deakin University and the University of Wollongong, 53 pre-schoolers were tested to see if an association existed between basic movement skills and playing electronic games. It was found that skills like throwing, catching and kicking were better in the group of children that played games. The results of the study are published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills.

NHMRC postdoctoral researcher Dr Lisa Barnett of Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development was the lead researcher on the study. Of the results she said “the study was not designed to assess whether interactive gaming can actually develop children’s movement skills, but the results are still quite interesting and point to a need to further explore a possible connection.”

The findings of research were that children who played more interactive games were more competent in object control skills, such as catching, kicking and bouncing a ball). However there was no correlation with locomotive skills like running, hopping and jumping.

The findings only applied to interactive games; no association was drawn with non-interactive gaming.

Dr Barnett continued “while we found that greater time spent playing interactive games is associated with higher object control skills in these young children we cannot say why.”

“It could be that these children have higher object control skills because they are playing interactive games that may help to develop these types of skills (for example, the under hand roll through playing the bowling game on the Wii). Playing interactive electronic games may also help eye-hand coordination. It may also be that children who already have higher object control skills tend to play interactive electronic games more.

“What our findings do point to is a need to investigate further to determine if playing these games improves object control skills or if children with greater object control skill proficiency prefer and play these games.

“It is important that we know this because children with better fundamental movement skills have been shown in my previous research to become fitter and more active adolescents compared to children who have poorer movement skills.”

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