As a direct antidote to this post, there is new hope in the fight against childhood obesity. In parenting, nothing is black and white all over but varying shades of grey. Video games are not necessarily the antichrist.
According to a study published in Online First by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine and reported in Science Daily, the key is the kind of video games that are being played. So-called active video gaming, which includes dancing and boxing, have all the benefits of physical activity—i.e., increased heart rate, oxygen uptake, and energy expenditure.
While traditional sedentary video games are linked to obesity, systems like the Wii encourage movement and physical fitness.
Researchers at the University of Chester in England studied the physiologic responses and energy expenditure of 11- to 15-year-old children playing games that do not require a game controller. Though the sample was small (only 18 children were involved), the authors found notable increases in heart rate, oxygen uptake and energy expenditure while the kids played Dance Central and Kinect Sports Boxing.
"Although it is unlikely that active video game play can single-handedly provide the recommended amount of physical activity for children or expend the number of calories required to prevent or reverse the obesity epidemic, it appears from the results of this study that Kinect active game play can contribute to children's physical activity levels and energy expenditure, at least in the short term," concluded the study's authors.
So if your kids are begging for screen time, why not indulge them in active gaming? There are certainly worse ways to spend a rainy day...