Exercising is not the only thing people have to do to be healthy, food is also important. If you want to be fit and healthy it’s essential to eat the right things. Unfortunately this is not easy and technology doesn’t help to achieve that goal. Advertisements of various products make us want to buy them. Most of the time unhealthy food has the best adds. For example, coca-cola, Mc Donalds,… The advertisements are everywhere, on billboards, tv, websites,… Advertisers try to anticipate on different ways to reach people. Technology makes it easier to achieve this and to influence people and especially children. Children are an easy target for marketeers.
A popular way of advertising nowadays are advergames. These are online games on websites of companies that people (especially children) can play. The goal for these games is to introduce children to their products. In the game, the product is everywhere and the company logo and goods are unavoidable. According to a study of a team led by Jennifer Harris (director of Marketing Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University), 38% of the companies had created advergames and about 1.2 million youngsters visit the company website with advergames. Children spent 88% more time on websites with advergames than on other websites.
In another part of the study, the researchers let some children play advergames for unhealthy products and some had to play advergames for healthy products. They had the choice of healthy and unhealthy snacks that they could eat during the game. The result was that both group at the same amount of unhealthy snacks, but the group of the healthy advergames ate 50% more healthy snacks. It was asif they remembered the lessons of the healthy advergame. This indicates that these advergames can influence children, which can be good or bad.
I think that unhealthy products have more or better advertisements and therefore are often more attractive to children. I also think there are more advergames for unhealthy products than for healthy products. It’s a good example of how technology can influence the health of people, even if people (children) don’t notice it. Children often don’t know what food is healthy or unhealthy. They are easy to influence and the advergames make use of it. The advergames can also be use in advantage of health,II think more effort has to be done to promote healthy products and in this case advergames would be a good way to unconsciously influence children in a good way.
Can Online Games Influence What Kids Eat? by Alice Park in Time Magazine
So maybe it is time to talk about why we should start sporting. We all know about the physical benefits. But what about other factors? In the article mentioned below they talk about mental benefits.
There are 5 major benefits.
Physical activity should release brain chemicals which have a positive influence on our mood. Team sports not only provide a challenge to improve your fitness, but they can provide social benefits because you can connect with teammates and friends in a recreational way.
Sporting three to five times a week for at least 30minutes can be enough to keep your thinking, learning and judgement sharp.
Reduce Stress and Depression:
While reducing stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), exercise makes us produce more endorphins. It helps you cope with stress and depression, and makes you feel more relaxed.
Regular exercise improves your sleeping pattern. You sleep faster and deeper. Which again helps improve your mood.
When you are working hard to get better results or improve your scores, you are building on your self-esteem. Especially when all this hard work pays off. You are proud of what you have achieved and feel in control. You feel like you can take on the world and all of its challenges.
I sure believe that these benefits exist when you exercise or sport regularly. Maybe some of them are a bit hard to measure. Like how can you tell that you have more endorphins in your body? From personal experience I can tell that sport really can reduce stress, it gives me a way to escape all responsibilities and deadlines for a moment.
There are a lot of exercise games available for most of the gaming consoles. For example Xbox has the kinect, Playstation has Playstation Move and the Wii is all about movement sensors. These accessories lead to games that need movements (let us not consider finger movement as a movement here) from different parts of the body to interact. They convert lazy gaming to active gaming. This doesn’t say anything about what people like the most, but it gives people the choice about their gaming experience.
In the paper “Using games to increase gaming motivation” from Jeffrey Yim and T.C. Nicholas Graham, a research is done on what motivates people to play these active exercise games and not on how to implement a realistic exercise game. According to the writers of the paper they were one of the first that tried to tie the exercise motivation literature to the design of exercise games. Their research resulted in 6 requirements that a exercise game must have to be able to motivate people to exercise by gaming:
-Availability of good instructor
-Achievable short and long-term goals
-Hide players’ fitness level
-Avoid lack of peer support
-Actively assist players in forming groups
The writers also say that these are requirements to help address barriers to take part in exercise games and will not guarantee a fun and engaging game.
I think the requirements the writers stated can indeed be motivators to perform exercise games. But this is only applicable to people who somehow have a little motivation to exercise themselves. For these people this bridge can be their way to exercising, but for people who doesn’t have any motivation themselves it will not have any affect. The won’t take the effort to buy and play these games. I also think these games have more effect on children than on adults, because a child may not be aware of the fact that he/she is exercising while an adult probably is.
Yim, J., Nicholas Graham, N., 2007, Using games to increase exercise motivation, FuturePlay, November 15-17, Toronto, Canada