Effects of active video games on children’s psychosocial beliefs and school day energy expenditure

Zan Gao, Zachary C. Pope, Jung Eun Lee, Minghui Quan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Examine the effects of active video games (AVGs) on children’s school-day energy expenditure (EE) and physical activity (PA)-related self-efficacy, social support, and outcome expectancy over 9 months. Method: Participants were 81 fourth grade students (Xage = 9.23 years, SD = 0.62; 39 girls) from two urban Minnesota elementary schools. A once-weekly 50 min AVG intervention was implemented in the intervention school for 9 months in 2014-2015 while the control school continued regular recess. Children’s school-day EE (daily caloric expenditure) and mean daily metabolic equivalent (MET) values were estimated via accelerometry whereas self-efficacy, social support, and outcome expectancy were assessed with psychometrically-validated questionnaires. All measures were completed at baseline and at the 4th and 9th months. Results: We observed significant interaction effects for daily caloric expenditure, F(1, 58) = 15.8, p < 0.01, mean daily MET values, F(1, 58)=11.3, p<0.01, and outcome expectancy, F(1, 58)=4.5, p<0.05. Specifically, intervention children had greater increases in daily caloric expenditure (91 kilocalorie/day post-intervention group difference), with control children decreasing daily caloric expenditure over time. We observed identical trends for mean daily MET values (0.35 METs/day post-intervention group difference). Interestingly, we observed outcome expectancy to increase in the control children, but decrease among intervention children, at post-intervention (1.35 group difference). Finally, we observed a marginally significant interaction effect for social support, F(1, 58) = 3.104, p = 0.08, with an increase and decrease seen in the intervention and control children, respectively. We observed no interaction or main effects for self-efficacy. Discussion: Observations suggested an AVG intervention contributed to longitudinal increases in school-day EE and social support compared to the control condition. Future research should examine how self-efficacy and outcome expectancy might be promoted during school-based AVG interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1268
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Active video games
  • Outcome expectancy
  • Pediatric obesity
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social support


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