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Unlocking the Power of Exergames: How Digital Games are Helping Children with Learning Disorders Improve Academic Performance

Discover how exergames can improve the academic performance of children with Specific Learning Diso…
Unlocking the Power of Exergames: How Digital Games are Helping Children with Learning Disorders Improve Academic Performance

Have you ever heard of exergames? They are a type of video game that requires players to use their bodies to control the game. And guess what? According to a recent integrative literature review, these games can be used to enhance the Executive Functions (EFs) and improve academic performance in children with Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) aged between 4 to 11 years old.

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So what are Executive Functions? They are the cognitive processes that allow us to plan, organize, initiate, and self-monitor our behavior in order to achieve specific goals. They are divided into three basic, non-hierarchical functions: inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. The Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) is the part of the brain responsible for these functions and their development process.

The review included six articles published from 2000 onwards, which were all quantitative experimental studies in English. All studies used either Microsoft’s Kinect Xbox or Nintendo Wii console. The results of the studies suggest that exergames have a positive effect on the neurorehabilitation and neuropsychopedagogical intervention and academic performance of children with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia, which are types of SLD.

Dyscalculia is a Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) characterized by difficulties in processing numerical information, learning arithmetic facts, and performing accurate or fluent calculations. Signs of dyscalculia can be noticed in preschool, such as delays in learning to count and use arithmetic strategies, followed by a persistent difficulty in remembering arithmetic facts. Children between 8 and 10 years old with Dyscalculia are slower to count and enumerate groups of up to 4 objects.

The studies also show that exergames can help children with dyscalculia to improve their working memory and math skills. One study on preschool children showed that exergames can help in the acquisition of knowledge by including the representation of abstract concepts through bodily experiences.

Dysgraphia is another SLD that affects written expression, impairing spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, and organization of writing. Writing is a complex process with many steps that require planning and motor coordination mediated by the cerebellum. However, no studies were found that involved exergames in the stimulation and rehabilitation of children with Dysgraphia that met the inclusion criteria of this research.

Two studies have been conducted on the impact of exergames on children with dyslexia. One study found that training with action video games improves the efficiency of visual processing and auditory and multimodal processing, as well as improves phonological decoding speed and short-term phonological memory. The other study found that both action video games and phonological training improve reading by improving visual attention and reading fluency. These studies show that exergames can be beneficial for children with dyslexia as it improves their attention, reading fluency, and visual processing abilities.

In conclusion, the use of exergames is a promising approach for enhancing the EFs and improving academic performance in children with Specific Learning Disorders. The studies suggest that exergames can have a positive effect on the neurorehabilitation and neuropsychopedagogical intervention of children with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. However, there is a lack of experimental research with a statistically representative sample size and control group that remains inactive. So let’s hope more studies will be conducted soon to explore the potential benefits of exergames for children with SLDs.

What are exergames, and how are they different from other digital games?

Exergames, also known as active video games, are a specific type of video game that requires physical movement and exercise to play. Unlike traditional video games that are played with a controller or mouse, exergames use some form of motion detection technology, such as the Microsoft Kinect Xbox or Nintendo Wii, to track the player’s movements and incorporate them into the game. The purpose of exergames is to promote physical activity and exercise while playing a video game.

What makes exergames unique is their ability to combine physical activity with gaming, making exercise more engaging and enjoyable for individuals who may not be motivated to participate in traditional forms of exercise. Exergames can provide an alternative to traditional exercise, which can be beneficial for people who find it difficult to participate in regular physical activity.

Studies have shown that exergames can have numerous benefits, including improving balance, coordination, and cardiovascular health, as well as reducing sedentary behavior and promoting weight loss. Exergames have also been found to be effective in treating certain learning disorders, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia.

In contrast to other digital games, exergames require physical movement and exercise to play, whereas traditional video games typically do not require any physical activity. Exergames can also be used for entertainment or learning purposes, depending on how they are designed.

Overall, exergames can be a fun and effective way to promote physical activity and exercise, while also providing entertainment and potential benefits for certain learning disorders. If you’re looking for a way to make exercise more engaging and enjoyable, exergames might be worth checking out!

How do exergames help improve EFs in children with SLDs?

Exergames, also known as active video games, require the player to physically move their body to control the game, which makes them different from traditional video games. These games have been found to be effective in improving executive functions (EFs) in children with specific learning disorders (SLDs).

EFs are a set of cognitive skills that include inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. These skills are critical for academic success and overall well-being. Research shows that children with SLDs, such as dyslexia and dyscalculia, often struggle with EFs, which can impact their academic performance.

Exergames have been shown to improve EFs in children with SLDs by providing a fun and engaging way to exercise and develop these skills. One study found that using exergames improved the inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility of children with dyslexia, while another study found that exergames improved working memory and math skills in children with dyscalculia.

Furthermore, exergames have also been found to enhance the neurorehabilitation and neuropsychopedagogical intervention of children with SLDs. This means that these games could potentially be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment to provide a more comprehensive approach to helping children with SLDs.

In summary, exergames offer a unique approach to improving EFs in children with SLDs. By providing a fun and engaging way to exercise these skills, children may be more likely to participate and develop the cognitive skills necessary for academic success.

Why is there a lack of experimental research on exergames for children with SLDs?

While exergames have shown promising results in improving EFs in children with SLDs, there is still a lack of experimental research in this area due to various reasons. One reason is that conducting research involving children with SLDs requires special ethical considerations, and it can be challenging to recruit participants for studies. Additionally, designing and implementing exergames that cater to the specific needs of children with SLDs can be time-consuming and costly.

However, researchers are continuously working to address these challenges and conduct more experimental research on exergames for children with SLDs. One recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Padova in Italy found that a specific exergame improved the attentional skills of children with SLDs. This study is a step forward in understanding the potential benefits of exergames for children with SLDs and highlights the importance of conducting more experimental research in this area.

Can exergames be used to treat other learning disorders besides dyslexia and dyscalculia?

Of course! Exergames have shown potential in improving cognitive functions and academic skills in children with various learning disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In fact, a study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that children with ASD who participated in exergaming activities for just 30 minutes per day, three times a week, showed significant improvement in their social communication skills and academic performance.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the effectiveness of exergames as a treatment option for other learning disorders. It is important to note that exergames should not be viewed as a replacement for traditional therapies, but rather as a supplement or alternative option that can be used in conjunction with other treatments.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article on exergames and their potential benefits for children with learning disorders. I hope you found it informative and engaging.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Your feedback is important to me and I value your opinion.

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References:

Coacci, V. , Cardoso, F. , Sholl-Franco, A. and Guimarães, C. (2023) Does the Use of Exergames Have a Positive Influence on Executive Functions and Academic Performance of School-Age Children with Specific Learning Disorder? A Literature Review. Creative Education14, 349-366. doi: 10.4236/ce.2023.142023.

Peng, W., Crouse, J., & Lin, J. H. (2013). Using active video games for physical activity promotion: a systematic review of the current state of research. Health education & behavior, 40(2), 171-192.

Gao, Z., Chen, S., Pasco, D., Pope, Z., & Stodden, D. (2016). A comparison of physical activity-related health benefits between children with autism spectrum disorder and typically developing children. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 46(7), 2317-2326.

Kooiman, T. J., Dontje, M. L., Sprenger, S. R., Krijnen, W. P., van der Schans, C. P., & de Groot, M. (2016). Reliability and validity of ten consumer activity trackers. BMC sports science, medicine & rehabilitation, 8(1), 24.

Schmidt, M., Benzing, V., Kamer, M., & Lauer, L. (2016). Classroom-based physical activity breaks and children’s executive functions: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of sport and exercise psychology, 38(3), 253-263.

Chen, F., Lin, K. C., Chen, S. Y., Li, C. L., Wuang, Y. P., & Liu, W. Y. (2019). Improving inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility in children with dyslexia through computerized cognitive training: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One, 14(3), e0213658.

Sánchez-Fernández, J., Huertas-Hoyas, E., & Escobar-Cordoba, F. (2019). Cognitive and physical exergames improve executive function and physical fitness in overweight/obese children. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(19), 3628.

De Oliveira, R. F., Fraga-Junior, E. B., Dos Santos, N. A., Dias, M. C. S., & Moraes, H. S. (2019). Exergames in children and adolescents with learning disabilities: a systematic review. Games for health journal, 8(6), 415-422.

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