CORAL GABLES, FL -- Many parents worry about the psychological effects of their children playing hours upon hours of video games but what about the physiological impact. Can video games lead to elevated stress levels or other health risks in young people? Unfortunately, almost no scientific data is available on this topic. That is why researchers at the University of Miami are conducting a new study that measures the biological responses of children while playing video games.
"We've already seen an inverse relationship between the amount of time spent watching TV and the obesity levels in kids," said Arlette Perry, director of the Human Performance Lab at UM, who is leading the study. "We want to see if video games are as bad as TV in terms of decreasing metabolic rates."
Instruments monitoring the children measure their heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. In addition, the researchers will measure how many calories are being burned, how much oxygen is being consumed, and other factors in children that may change when stimulated by the games.
The current study involves 20 boys ages 7 to 9 who are closely monitored while they play video games in the UM lab. The reason the researchers selected only boys to take part in the study was to eliminate gender variables in physiology.
Perry, a professor of exercise and sports, said preliminary results indicate a significant difference between children watching TV and playing video games. When playing video games, Perry has observed that children's glucose levels shoot up and the stress level and metabolic rate also increase.
Perry hopes to have preliminary results of the study available in the next few weeks.
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