The study, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, found that that active games had a positive effect on helping to develop motor skills for many developmental disorders.
Project supervisor Dr Lisa Barnett, from Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development, said: “Not all children have the opportunity for typical development, with motor skills deficits a key characteristic of many developmental disorders, including children with intellectual disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome and Cerebral Palsy,” she said.
“Switching to active video games might bring benefits to children in these groups.
“These games involve moving the body during play and often mirror the naturalistic settings of the particular activity or sport, helping kids to master a particular skill in a low-pressure environment.”
Dr Barnett said active games could also help non-typically developing children feel more confident about their physical abilities.
“We found that children with autism significantly improved their perception of motor competence after playing these games,” she said.
“This might encourage more of these children to participate in sport, which we know can have huge benefits both physically and mentally.
“It’s important that all kids can join in on the playground, and that means helping them to establish the ABCs of movement, gross motor skills like balancing, running and jumping.”
Lead researcher Zoey Page, a Master’s student at Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development, said the study found the games provided much-needed motivation for children to participate in important physical therapy as they engage with them in a fun way.
“For many of these kids it’s also a way they can take part in a game with their siblings or friends on a more level playing field,” she said.
However, Ms Page said the research indicated that for the full physical benefits to be felt, children needed to be guided in these activities and that the best results were achieved when children received guidance from professionals such as from physical therapists.
The vivid and engaging visual displays encourage participants to move and interact with the content, which can help to improve participants fine and gross motor skills.
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Medical News Today: Study shows active video games could improve kids’ development