Instead of drawing with crayons, I see kids busily punching their thumbs away while parents converse over dinner at restaurants. Slaves to electronic entertainment, mom and dad often welcome the distraction video games offers when they are enjoying an adult conversation or flying across the country. Sitting motionless for hours may keep the peace, but it's not doing your children any favors.
If you must indulge your child in video games at home, make it a virtual exercise game to get their bums up and moving. While it's no surprise that physically active video games are better for one's health than a stationary hand game, there are some that do a better job of "exercising" your child. To see what the experts say,
The kids burned two to three times as many calories when playing Wii Boxing and Wii Tennis than when engaging in traditional handheld video games. Their average heart rate shot up from 80 to 120 beats per minute — about what you'd expect when walking or doing a slow dance.
Viki Penpraze from the University of Glasgow in Scotland researched the heart rates of children watching television, playing a handheld game and those playing an interactive video game. She found that the first two activities provided no more exercise than reading a book. However, youngsters playing Dance Mat Mania and Eye Toy Boxing showed an increase from 80 to 160 heart beats per minute. She said this was the "equivalent of brisk walking or even jogging."
Of course no video game can mimic the exercise that a good tag, jump rope, hide and seek, or soccer game can provide. So if it's nice outside, open that back door and let 'em run themselves ragged. The calm is sure to come after the storm.