A video game developed by researchers at Yale University has proven to be an effective tool to improve health knowledge and reduce risky sexual behavior among Blacks and teenagers from other racial and ethnic groups. Researchers recruited 300 students ages 11 to 14 for the project. Some were given the video game PlayForward: Elm Street Stories to play for 75 minutes twice a week for six weeks. The game presents role-playing scenarios that engage youth with a variety of challenges and choices in fictional but realistic situations. The game is designed to promote sexual health and knowledge among minority teens.
A control group was given other video games to play on the same schedule. After the test period, researchers determined that the group who were given PlayForward showed significant improvement in sexual health attitudes and knowledge over the control group.
Lynn Fiellin associate professor at Yale Medical School and the leader of the research team, notes that “we saw significant and sustained positive changes in terms of attitudes about sexual health and sexual health knowledge. Never before has a video game intervention demonstrated that kids will engage in a game with serious content and learn things that impact the way they think and potentially what they do.”
Dr. Fiellin plans to produce other versions of the game that focus on other health-related behaviors such as smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes.
Dr. Fiellin and her co-authors published their findings in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. It may be accessed here.