Preschoolers and Active Video Games: Still learning

Providing educational opportunities for preschoolers is essential.  We are encouraged to read aloud to our preschoolers and share the love of reading with them every day.  We are urged to help our children be physically active at least an hour a day, and to limit our children’s media use to no more than 2 hours per day.  But what if we were able to use the media to get kids physically active and engage in literacy development?  LeapTV holds the potential to do this.

Coming to market soon, LeapTV is a game console targeted to children ages 3-8 years which combines attributes of X-Box Kinect within the educational framework of traditional LeapFrog games.

But LeapTV has big competition not only as an educational media platform, but also in the realm of entertainment media as well.

On the educational media platform side, we have a variety of preschool devices and gaming content.  Fisher-Price also has a series of technology devices aimed at getting kids active with an educational focus.  Remember these?

And what about preschool games for the X-Box Kinect?  Sesame Workshop has an X-Box game for parents and children:

In addition, journalist Stuart Dredge suggests that the entertainment media realm presents another challenge to the success of LeapTV.  Competing with Minecraft, Skylanders, and tablets, LeapTV faces a tough market.  Ultimately, Dredge concludes:

“LeapTV’s success will depend on how well it’s marketed to parents; the quality of its catalogue (including how many more big brands it can sign up); and whether there really is a demand from parents for a new children’s device under their TVs.”  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/04/leaptv-kids-console-leapfrog-minecraft-skylanders

For me, this raises the question of how do you define success.  In the marketplace, success is defined by the return on investment and the amount of sales of these products.  For parents, success may be measured by the amount of playtime the product gets in the home compared with other products.  For me, success is defined by the outcomes the play brings for the child.  Does the child become more active?  Do they learn from the game?  What do they learn from the game?  Does the activity interfere with the learning or support it?  I’m curious to see how this plays out for our preschoolers.  We know that some active games do have a positive impact on children’s activity (particularly their energy expenditure and heart rate), but most of these studies were conducted with older children, and no educational games (or educational outcomes) were tested.  We need more research on the younger crowd to help parents make informed decisions.  Let’s continue to work in this direction to explore active gaming for our little users, preschoolers.

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