3 stories about video games making the world a healthier place

In this week's edition of Healthy Tech, we look at a video game reporter who wound up finding he prefers standing when playing videogames, a round-up of some of the best healthy apps for kids and whether or not a videogame can help teenagers fight depression.

Kotaku Kirk Hamilton standing desk.jpg

Kotaku writer Kirk Hamilton's standing desk.

1. Can You Make Playing Videogames More Healthy By Standing Up?

In a previous edition of Healthy Tech, I've mentioned the idea of using a standing desk at work. But would the same principle of better healthy living apply when playing video games? (Other than Kinect games, where it's pretty much required.)

Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton decided to look at the idea for a recent article.

Knowing that he sits on average for 12 hours or more a day thanks to the heavy burden of having to play and write about video games for a living, Hamilton found his body reacting negatively to sitting for so long.

So he started to make a homemade standing desk before actually looking at ones he could purchase pre-made. He settled for one that easily allowed him to go from standing to sitting quite easily, for when his feet felt tired. He even found playing first-person games was more fun when he stood.

I admire Hamilton's goal and am a bit jealous that he seems so happy with the decision. Maybe one of these days I'll wind up reviewing a standing desk for DVICE here in Healthy Tech.

Via Kotaku

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2. A Boatload Of Healthy Apps For Kids

I write about health and fitness apps for Healthy Tech all the time, but as it turns out, most are aimed at adults. This week, however, I thought it important to link to a story that rounds up some of the best ones for kids, thanks to an article on Betakit.

Some of the apps they recommend let kids find out how much salt, sugar and oil are in their foods by virtually "smashing" them on their iPad. Knowing what something's made of will hopefully lead kids to make better choices about their eating habits when they're older.

Another app helps kids learn basic tooth care. (I admit — I was such a bad kid about brushing my teeth, and am absolutely paying for it now.) Betakit says the app was intended for home use, but has actually been adopted for us in dentist and orthodontist offices.

And then, there are a couple apps designed to get kids off the couch and outside exercising.

Seems a little ironic that an app that you use on the couch is designed to get you off the couch.

Via Betakit


3. Using Videogames To Fight Teenage Depression

A group of New Zealand psychiatrists are working on videogames to treat teenage depression. No, they won't be working out anger issues in Grand Theft Auto. The SPARX video game uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help teenagers deal with depression, according to the New York Daily News.

SPARX is a role-playing fantasy game, where players/teenagers become a warrior and, as the news site puts it, "blast negative thoughts with fireballs while trying to save the world from sinking into a mire of pessimism and despair."

While it sounds like a game that teenagers would laugh at, the project leader says it's popular with that age group. "The therapy doesn't have to be depressing in and of itself," Sally Merry, project leader, told New York Daily News. "We're aiming to make it fun."

New Zealand is working to combat the problem because it has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the developed world.

SPARX has seven levels, each of which last about 40 minutes. It's aimed at 13 to 17-year-olds, and has a guide that helps players get through each level. Every level "has a lesson embedded in it teaching skills such as anger management, conflict resolution and breathing relaxation exercises," according to the New York Daily News.

The game was shown to be effective in a clinical trial earlier this year and the game has generated interest outside New Zealand — even in the United States. Release details are still being finalized, but the creators are thinking about putting it on the Internet so you can play it on the iPad, or even developing a specialized version, such as Rainbow SPARX for gay youths.

Via New York Daily News

About Healthy Tech

This is the Healthy Tech Weekly, where guest columnist Alan Danzis reports on choice healthy technology news stories. Each week you'll discover new fitness gadgets, apps and going-ons, as well as what's around the corner, with medical innovations that will one day change the way you monitor and impact your overall health and well-being.

By day, Alan Danzis works at Atomic Public Relations. His opinions here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of Atomic, nor the clients Atomic works with.

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