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New Take on Video Gaming

Britt MacArthur (‘12) collaborated with professors to offer a new perspective on children’s physical activity.

It’s a long-held belief that children who play outside experience more physical activity than those who spend a lot of their time in front of a television.

But what if that’s not necessarily true?

MacArthur took an interest in children and physical activity while working as an undergraduate at UT’s Healthy Eating and Activity Lab (HEAL).

“I was interested in exploring the idea of whether a child’s active video gaming could have physical activity benefits either close to or similar to a child’s outdoor play,” she says.

To put her theory to the test, MacArthur began working with Hollie Raynor, director of HEAL and professor of nutrition, and Dawn Coe, an associate professor of exercise physiology.

Their findings—which were published in 2015 in the Games for Health Journal—suggest that in some cases “video games which wholly engage a child’s body can be a source of physical activity” in children five to eight years old.

“I am hopeful that future students will continue with the research to see how far it can progress,” MacArthur says.