The advantages and limitations of digital games in children’s health promotion
Keywords:health games, children, health promotion, ethics
Childhood is an important period for forming the foundation for future health and well-being, and there is need for new methods for these health promotion purposes. Digital games are promising methods that could cover the challenges current health promotion efforts are facing. Ethical acceptability is an essential aspect of health promotion methods and special attention needs to be paid when promoting the health of children. This and increased interest in digital games as health promotion methods highlight the need for discussing the limitations, in addition to reasoning the advantages of digital games in children’s health promotion, to advance ethically sustainable development and use of health games. The aim of this overview review is to summarize and discuss the advantages and limitations of digital games in children’s health promotion based on the previous literature.
We conducted a systematic literature search from scientific databases, and supplemented the search with a manual search. In total 42 articles and other forms of literature were included to the content analysis. We found several advantages and limitations of digital games in children’s health promotion. The findings considered: 1) issues related to the implementation of health promotion using digital games (perspectives of the provider and the player), and 2) possible outcomes of digital games in children (perspectives of physical, psychological, cognitive, social and health behavior related outcomes).
The found advantages give good reasons for the use of digital games in children’s health promotion. However, the developers, publishers and professionals should consider carefully also the limitations of digital games in children’s health promotion to support ethically sustainable development and use of health games in children. As the interest in health games and thereby the utilization of them increases, there is a need for guidelines for developers, publishers and professional who develop and recommend health games especially for children.