The answer is a resounding no! It came as no surprise to me to learn that active video games don’t promote any additional activity for children.
We have a Wii Fit, I think. We’ve got a dance pad too. When we first bought it, they got used a bit but now it’s just another piece of plastic crap taking up too much space in my house.
I hate video games. I haven’t been into them since going to an arcade was still in style, wasting quarters on Donkey Kong or shooting invaders from space. Video games are a time-suck. But my kids do play them. My son likes Halo and Zelda, and my daughter plays Mario Kart. They don’t play video games for exercise, however.
Trying to engage children to do more physical activity via video games is not the answer. Telling the kids to go outside is. Actually, being a good role model for having a fit lifestyle is even better. My wife has a black belt in karate and my son is just one step below that and my daughter one level below him. My kids like to ride their bikes because they understand the joy it brings – they’ve seen me go out on mine every chance I get.
When they complain about it being -20C and ask for a ride instead of walking the one kilometer to school, I say, “I’m going to run 15K in this. You can handle walking just one.”
When they’ve had enough video games I say things like, “It’s a beautiful day, go outside and terrorize the neighbourhood. Come home dirty and sweaty.” I’m such an ogre sometimes.
Kids need to be told what to do. They need to be told when to stop playing video games and to go play outside instead. When they’re raised in an environment with parents who are positive role models in health and fitness, they often don’t even need to be told. Sometimes just waving a Frisbee or soccer ball in their face and asking them to join you outside is all it takes.