The AAP recommends that children and adolescents watch no more than two hours of educational screen-time a day. Despite these recommendations, children and adolescents under 18 years old spend three hours watching television and over six hours being sedentary (TV, computer, video games, cell/telephone, reading) each day (Roberts et al., 2005). Exergaming is a new form of video game interaction that requires the game player to physically move in order to play. The most popular exergame to date is Konami's Dance Dance RevolutionTM (DDR). If teenagers are already playing games like DDR, and there are known physiological benefits to playing this type of game (Yang, 2008; Yang, 2005) there is a need to quantify how much time they spend playing exergames.
As a recipient a PEP grant, a school district in the Northeastern US chose to determine the amount of time their students spent being sedentary, physically active, and exergaming, by using a self-report questionnaire based on national surveys including the YRBS (Rideout et al., 2003) (Feldman et al., 2003) (Roberts et al., 1999). Instead of asking participants to complete the survey by indicating the number of hours (E.g. 0, 1, 2, etc…), the investigators asked participants to self-report their time by writing the actual number of minutes. Hopefully this data collection method will yield more accurate details.
In total, 1465 participants in grades seven through 12 (girls n = 686, boys n = 779) answered questions about their time spent being sedentary and active on a typical school night. The five sedentary measures were combined into one measure and the internal consistency score of these items was low (Cronbach's alpha = .52). One-way ANOVA (alpha=0.05) was used to determine differences between groups. On average girls reported more hours in sedentary time (M=6.59, SD=4.38) than boys (M=6.08, SD=4.50), F(1,1468)=4.67, p=0.031. Boys reported more days (M=4.52, SD=2.05) than girls (M=3.92, SD=1.99) of doing at least 60 minutes of MVPA on most days of the week, F(1,1480)=32.86, p<.0001. Boys spent more minutes playing exergames (M=30.60, SD=0.90) than girls (M=21.08, SD=46.65) on a typical school night, F(1,1474)=8.99, p=0.003.
Overall 46.7 % of participants met the recommended level of daily physical activity, which is higher than the national average of 34.7%. Spending six or more hours a night being sedentary should be concerning, however; if teenagers can displace sedentary time with exergaming, perhaps overall physical activity time can also increase.
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