Can Exergaming Help Develop Emotional Regulation?
There are a number of emotions that are felt when you or your kids engage in a video game. There are times when you feel happy, relaxed, and have a great sense of accomplishment, and then there are times when you feel angry, frustration, that the video game is cheating and it’s not letting you win or beat that level/challenge. With all these emotions, can video games and more importantly, can exergaming help with the participant’s emotional regulation?
Just what is emotional regulation? Emotional regulation is the ability to exert control over one’s emotional state. Which means that when you get frustrated at a video game, you don’t throw your controller at the TV. You are able to control your frustration and use different techniques to remain calm.
Exergaming is the combination of exercise and video gaming combined, and interestingly enough, many people use exercise as a way to de-stress. But exercise is a form of physical stress, you’re putting stress on your body and you are exercising. Ironically, this physical stress can relieve mental stress. According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates production of endorphins, which together help foster relaxation.[i] The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also states that aerobic exercise has shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.[ii]
So now that we have confirmed what we all already know, that exercise can help reduce stress, the question now is can video games reduce stress? After all, we’ve already discussed that video games can give us stress as well. Villani et al. (2018) suggests that video game playing may enhance emotional intelligence and the mastering of emotional regulation strategies.[iii] However, one very important factor is that excessive video game playing may negatively influence these competencies.[iv] The study showed that gamers were able to cope with emotional stimuli that they cannot normally experience in real life, so they were able to use adaptive strategies in order to control these emotions.[v] So, gamers were able to develop new strategies to deal with their emotions that can very well be applied in other contexts and situations as well.
By combining active play and gaming, not only will the participant be able to relieve stress through exercising, but they can potentially be able to enhance their emotional regulation as well. TekyGo! provides opportunities for exercising and video gaming at the same time, and teaches children fundamental concepts like Math, Geography, Phonics and Reading. So let’s get kids moving, and as a bonus, help them to develop strategies for emotional regulation as well!
3, 2, 1, TekyGO!
[i] Exercising to relax. (July 7, 2020). Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax
[ii] Physical Activity Reduces Stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st
[iii] Villani, D., Carissoli, C., Triberti, S., Marchetti, A., Gilli, G., Riva, G. (2018). Videogames for Emotional Regulation: A Systematic Review. Games for Health Journal 7(2), 85-99.
[iv] Villani, D., Carissoli, C., Triberti, S., Marchetti, A., Gilli, G., Riva, G. (2018). Videogames for Emotional Regulation: A Systematic Review. Games for Health Journal 7(2), 85-99.
[v] Villani, D., Carissoli, C., Triberti, S., Marchetti, A., Gilli, G., Riva, G. (2018). Videogames for Emotional Regulation: A Systematic Review. Games for Health Journal 7(2), 85-99.