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Study Says ‘Active’ Video Games Don’t Boost Activity

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A controller is held next to a Nintendo Wii video game console. (credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) - Kids who play a lot of video games may not be as active as kids who play sports, which is why some parents prefer games that get their kids off the couch and moving around. But according to a new study, those “active” games such as “Wii Sports,” won’t actually make a kid more physically active.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents should get at least one hour of physical activity each day. Previous research suggests that “active” video games lead to increases in kid’s physical activity.

To find out whether “active” video games make kids less likely to be couch potatoes, researchers gave Wii consoles to 78 kids between ages 9 and 12, and monitored them for 12 weeks. The kids were split into groups in which they received either two “active” video games — including “Wii Fit Plus” and “Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party 3″ — or two “inactive” video games, such as “Mario Kart Wii” or “Madden NFL 10.”

Throughout the study, kids kept a journal of their play times and were given an accelerometer — a device they wore on their belts to measures acceleration and exertion. What did the researchers find? The kids who were given active video games were no more physically active than kids who were given the inactive games. There was no bump in physical activity even when kids first got the video game, and no difference in physical activity throughout entire study.

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