Videogames have been criticized as one of the main causes of obesity in the United States. Every year the U.S. spends millions of dollars on videogames. Most of these videogames involve pushing a few buttons and staring at a video screen. In addition to contributing to a sedentery lifestyle, children lose out on interactive play with their peers. This allows children to learn important social skills important for their psychological development. These virtual games have now replaced “cops & robbers” or “cowboys & indians” games into hyper-realistic wargames. Real sports are replaced by virtual football or basketball games that only exercise the fingers.
Parents now can’t use the excuse that videogames are causing their child’s sedentery lifestyle. Recently the American Heart Association (AHA) allowed its AHA “heart check” logo stamp to be placed on Nintendo active and virtual excercise game systems like the WiiFit. Before the AHA “heart check” logo was reserved for heart healthy foods but now this new partnership involves the AHA with this videogame maker who makes exercise fun. This partnership resulted in a $1.5 million donation from Nintendo to the AHA. This gives the appearance of a quid pro quo relationship. In a interview with ABC news, AHA president Dr. Yancy noted that Nintendo should be credited for its pioneering efforts in creating active videogames.
Parents need to carefully screen which videogames are appropriate for their chidren and weigh the benefits of virtual sport games versus actual sports. Granted that not all children are destined to be football heroes or basketball stars but actual physical activity outweighs any virtual sport available.