How Effective are Serious Games for Promoting Mental Health and Health Behavioral Change in Children and Adolescents? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Abstract

Background

Children and adolescents are major computer and technology gadget users. While serious games hold important promises for promoting health-related behavioral change and mental health among children and adolescents, their efficacy is yet unclear.

Objectives

We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to offer a comprehensive picture on the evidence-based status of serious games for mental health promotion and health-related behavioral change in children and adolescents.

Method

We included 34 clinical and experimental randomized studies investigating the efficacy of serious games on mental health promotion and health-related behavioral change in children and adolescents.

Results

Results showed a small, but significant effect size with very high heterogeneity. Participants’ age, number of sessions, the length of session, and study quality significantly moderated the effect size, with younger participants, fewer and shorter sessions, and lower quality of the study being associated with higher effect sizes. The effect size was not significant for follow-up measurements.

Conclusions

The evidence supporting the use of serious games in children and adolescents for purposes of health promotion is limited. These conclusions must be considered with caution given the bias of publication. We need more adequately conducted studies testing well-specified serious games before we can draw clear conclusions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Data Availability

Data is not currently stored in a public repository.

References

  1. Arns, M., de Ridder, S., Strehl, U., Breteler, M., & Coenen, A. (2009). Efficacy of neurofeedback treatment in ADHD: The effects on inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity—a meta-analysis. Clinical EEG and Neuroscience,40(3), 180–189. https://doi.org/10.1177/155005940904000311.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Cullen, K. W., Marsh, T., Islam, N., Zakeri, I., ... & Demoor, C. (2003). Squire’s Quest!: Dietary outcome evaluation of a multimedia game. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24(1), 52–61.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Thompson, D., Buday, R., Jago, R., Griffith, M. J., et al. (2011). Video game play, child diet, and physical activity behavior change: A randomized clinical trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine,40(1), 33–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2010.09.029.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Baranowski, T., Blumberg, F., Buday, R., DeSmet, A., Fiellin, L. E., Green, C. S., et al. (2016). Games for health for children—current status and needed research. Games For Health Journal,5(1), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1089/g4h.2015.0026.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baranowski, T., Buday, R., Thompson, D. I., & Baranowski, J. (2008). Playing for real: Video games and stories for health-related behavior change. American Journal of Preventive Medicine,34(1), 74–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2007.09.027.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bartholomew, L. K., Gold, R. S., Parcel, G. S., Czyzewski, D. I., Sockrider, M. M., Fernandez, M., ... & Swank, P. (2000). Watch, Discover, Think, and Act: Evaluation of computer-assisted instruction to improve asthma self-management in inner-city children. Patient Education and Counseling, 39(2-3), 269–280.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Beale, I. L., Kato, P. M., Marin-Bowling, V. M., Guthrie, N., & Cole, S. W. (2007). Improvement in cancer-related knowledge following use of a psychoeducational video game for adolescents and young adults with cancer. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41(3), 263–270.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Beaumont, R, Sofronoff, K. (2008). A multi-component social skills intervention for children with Asperger syndrome: The junior detective training program. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 743–753.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2009). Fixed-effect versus random-effects models. In Introduction to meta-analysis (pp. 77–86). London: Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470743386.ch13.

  10. Bosworth, K., Espelage, D., DuBay, T., Daytner, G., & Karageorge, K. (2000). Preliminary evaluation of a multimedia violence prevention program for adolescents. American Journal of Health Behavior, 24(4), 268–280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Brown, S. J., Lieberman, D. A., Gemeny, B. A., Fan, Y. C., Wilson, D. M., & Pasta, D. J. (1997). Educational video game for juvenile diabetes: Results of a controlled trial. Medical Informatics, 22(1), 77–89.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cartreine, J. A., Ahern, D. K., & Locke, S. E. (2010). A roadmap to computer-based psychotherapy in the United States. Harvard Review of Psychiatry,18(2), 80–95. https://doi.org/10.3109/10673221003707702.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Ceranoglu, T. A. (2010). Star Wars in psychotherapy: Video games in the office. Academic Psychiatry : The Journal of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and the Association for Academic Psychiatry,34(3), 233–236. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ap.34.3.233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Chambless, D. L., & Hollon, S. D. (1998). Defining empirically supported therapies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,66(1), 7–18.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Clarke, S., Arnab, S., Dunwell, I., & Brown, K. (2012). PR: EPARe: A game-based approach to relationship guidance for adolescents. Procedia Computer Science, 15, 38–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (p. 2). Hilsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Cole, S. W., Yoo, D. J., & Knutson, B. (2012). Interactivity and reward-related neural activation during a serious videogame. PLoS One, 7(3), e33909.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Collishaw, S., Maughan, B., Natarajan, L., & Pickles, A. (2010). Trends in adolescent emotional problems in England: A comparison of two national cohorts twenty years apart. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,51(8), 885–894. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02252.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Compton, S. N., March, J. S., Brent, D., Albano, A. M., Weersing, V. R., & Curry, J. (2004). Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for anxiety and depressive disorders in children and adolescents: An evidence-based medicine review. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,43(8), 930–959. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.chi.0000127589.57468.bf.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Cooper, H., Hedges, L. V., & Valentine, J. C. (2009). The handbook of research synthesis and meta-analysis. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Coyle, D., Doherty, G., & Sharry, J. (2009). An evaluation of a solution focused computer game in adolescent interventions. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry,14(3), 345–360. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104508100884.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Crenshaw, D. A. (2008). Therapeutic engagement of children and adolescents: Play, symbol, drawing, and storytelling strategies. Incorporated: Jason Aronson.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Cuijpers, P., Smit, F., Bohlmeijer, E., Hollon, S. D., & Andersson, G. (2010). Efficacy of cognitive–behavioural therapy and other psychological treatments for adult depression: Meta-analytic study of publication bias. The British Journal of Psychiatry,196(3), 173–178. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.109.066001.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. DeShazo, J., Harris, L., & Pratt, W. (2010). Effective intervention or child’s play? A review of video games for diabetes education. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics,12(10), 815–822. https://doi.org/10.1089/dia.2010.0030.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. DeSmet, A., Shegog, R., Van Ryckeghem, D., Crombez, G., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2014a). A systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions for sexual health promotion involving serious digital games. Games for Health Journal,4(2), 78–90. https://doi.org/10.1089/g4h.2014.0110.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. DeSmet, A., Van Ryckeghem, D., Compernolle, S., Baranowski, T., Thompson, D., Crombez, G., et al. (2014b). A meta-analysis of serious digital games for healthy lifestyle promotion. Preventive Medicine,69(Supplement C), 95–107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.08.026.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Dias, M., & Agante, L. (2011). Can advergames boost children's healthier eating habits? A comparison between healthy and non-healthy food. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 10(3), 152–160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Drechsler, R., Straub, M., Doehnert, M., Heinrich, H., Steinhausen, H. C., & Brandeis, D. (2007). Controlled evaluation of a neurofeedback training of slow cortical potentials in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Behavioral and Brain Functions, 3(1), 35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Duval, S., & Tweedie, R. (2000). Trim and fill: A simple funnel-plot–based method of testing and adjusting for publication bias in meta-analysis. Biometrics,56(2), 455–463. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0006-341X.2000.00455.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Farrell, L. J., & Barrett, P. M. (2007). Prevention of childhood emotional disorders: Reducing the burden of suffering associated with anxiety and depression. Child and Adolescent Mental Health,12(2), 58–65. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-3588.2006.00430.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Ferguson, C. J. (2009). Is psychological research really as good as medical research? Effect size comparisons between psychology and medicine. Review of General Psychology,13(2), 130–136.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Fleming, T., Dixon, R., Frampton, C., & Merry, S. (2012). A pragmatic randomized controlled trial of computerized CBT (SPARX) for symptoms of depression among adolescents excluded from mainstream education. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 40(5), 529–541.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Folkvord, F., Anschütz, D. J., Buijzen, M., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2013). The effect of playing advergames that promote energy-dense snacks or fruit on actual food intake among children. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(2), 239–245.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Fuchslocher, A., Niesenhaus, J., & Krämer, N. (2011). Serious games for health: An empirical study of the game “Balance” for teenagers with diabetes mellitus. Entertainment Computing, 2(2), 97–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Gamberini, L., Barresi, G., Maier, A., & Scarpetta, F. (2008). A game a day keeps the doctor away: A short review of computer games in mental healthcare. Journal of CyberTherapy and Rehabilitation,1(2), 127–145.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Gentile, D. A., & Walsh, D. A. (2002). A normative study of family media habits. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology,23(2), 157–178. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0193-3973(02)00102-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Gevensleben, H., Holl, B., Albrecht, B., Vogel, C., Schlamp, D., Kratz, O., ... & Heinrich, H. (2009). Is neurofeedback an efficacious treatment for ADHD? A randomised controlled clinical trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50(7), 780–789.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Goh, D. H., Ang, R. P., & Tan, H. C. (2008). Strategies for designing effective psychotherapeutic gaming interventions for children and adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior,24(5), 2217–2235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2007.10.007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Goodman, A., Joyce, R., & Smith, J. P. (2011). The long shadow cast by childhood physical and mental problems on adult life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,108(15), 6032–6037. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1016970108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Gould, M. S., Munfakh, J. L. H., Lubell, K., Kleinman, M., & Parker, S. (2002). Seeking help from the internet during adolescence. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,41(10), 1182–1189. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-200210000-00007.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. The American Psychologist,69(1), 66–78. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034857.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Guse, K., Levine, D., Martins, S., Lira, A., Gaarde, J., Westmorland, W., et al. (2012). Interventions using new digital media to improve adolescent sexual health: A systematic review. The Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine,51(6), 535–543. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.03.014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Guy, S., Ratzki-Leewing, A., & Gwadry-Sridhar, F. (2011). Moving beyond the stigma: Systematic review of video games and their potential to combat obesity. International Journal of Hypertension,2011, 179124. https://doi.org/10.4061/2011/179124.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Hedges, L. V. (1981). Distribution theory for glass’s estimator of effect size and related estimators. Journal of Educational Statistics,6(2), 107–128. https://doi.org/10.3102/10769986006002107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Hedges, L. V., & Olkin, I. (1985). Statistical methods for meta-analysis. London: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Higgins, J. P. T., & Green, S. (2011). Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. London: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Higgins, J. P. T., Thompson, S. G., Deeks, J. J., & Altman, D. G. (2003). Measuring inconsistency in meta-analyses. BMJ: British Medical Journal,327(7414), 557–560.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Horgan, Á., & Sweeney, J. (2010). Young students’ use of the Internet for mental health information and support. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing,17(2), 117–123. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2850.2009.01497.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Horne-Moyer, H. L., Moyer, B. H., Messer, D. C., & Messer, E. S. (2014). The use of electronic games in therapy: A review with clinical implications. Current Psychiatry Reports,16(12), 520. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-014-0520-6.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Huss, K., Winkelstein, M., Nanda, J., Naumann, P. L., Sloand, E. D., & Huss, R. W. (2003). Computer game for inner-city children does not improve asthma outcomes. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 17(2), 72–78.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Kato, P. M., Cole, S. W., Bradlyn, A. S., & Pollock, B. H. (2008). A video game improves behavioral outcomes in adolescents and young adults with cancer: A randomized trial. Pediatrics,122(2), e305–e317. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2007-3134.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Kharrazi, H., Lu, A. S., Gharghabi, F., & Coleman, W. (2012). A scoping review of health game research: Past, present, and future. Games for Health Journal,1(2), 153–164. https://doi.org/10.1089/g4h.2012.0011.

    PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Knopf, D., Park, M. J., & Mulye, T. P. (2008). The mental health of adolescents: A national profile, 2008. San Francisco, CA: National Adolescent Health Information Center. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8619/3766e17c9e5e834dca8120d5896cefe20be4.pdf

  54. Kumar, V. S., Wentzell, K. J., Mikkelsen, T., Pentland, A., & Laffel, L. M. (2004). The DAILY (Daily Automated Intensive Log for Youth) trial: A wireless, portable system to improve adherence and glycemic control in youth with diabetes. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, 6(4), 445–453.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Kvarven, A., Strømland, E., Wollbrant, C., Andersson, D., Johannesson, M., Tinghög, G., ... & Myrseth, K. O. R. (2020). The intuitive cooperation hypothesis revisited: A meta-analytic examination of effect size and between-study heterogeneity. Journal of the Economic Science Association, 1–16.

  56. Li, W. H., Chung, J. O., & Ho, E. K. (2011). The effectiveness of therapeutic play, using virtual reality computer games, in promoting the psychological well-being of children hospitalised with cancer. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 20(15–16), 2135–2143.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Light, R. J., & Pillemer D. B. (1984). Summing Up—The Science of Reviewing Research. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674854314&content=reviews

  58. Lu, A. S., Baranowski, T., Thompson, D., & Buday, R. (2012). Story immersion of videogames for youth health promotion: A review of literature. Games for Health Journal,1(3), 199–204. https://doi.org/10.1089/g4h.2011.0012.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Mcfarlane, A., Sparrowhawk, A., & Heald, Y. (2002). Report on the educational use of games: An exploration by TEEM of the contribution which games can make to the education process. http://www.teem.org.uk/publications/teem_gamesined_full.pdf

  60. McPherson, A. C., Glazebrook, C., Forster, D., James, C., & Smyth, A. (2006). A randomized, controlled trial of an interactive educational computer package for children with asthma. Pediatrics, 117(4), 1046–1054.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Merikangas, K. R., He, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., et al. (2010). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey replication–adolescent supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,49(10), 980–989. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Merry, S. N., Stasiak, K., Shepherd, M., Frampton, C., Fleming, T., & Lucassen, M. F. G. (2012). The effectiveness of SPARX, a computerised self help intervention for adolescents seeking help for depression: Randomised controlled non-inferiority trial. BMJ,344, e2598. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2598.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Newman, M. G., Szkodny, L. E., Llera, S. J., & Przeworski, A. (2011). A review of technology-assisted self-help and minimal contact therapies for anxiety and depression: Is human contact necessary for therapeutic efficacy? Clinical Psychology Review,31(1), 89–103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2010.09.008.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. NPD Group. (2011). The video game industry is adding 2-17 year-old gamers at a rate higher than that age group’s population growth [press release]. https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/pr_111011/—References—Scientific Research Publish. (n.d.). Retrieved September 27, 2017, from http://www.scirp.org/(S(351jmbntvnsjt1aadkposzje))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=1056382

  65. Panic, K., Cauberghe, V., & De Pelsmacker, P. (2014). Promoting dental hygiene to children: Comparing traditional and interactive media following threat appeals. Journal of Health Communication, 19(5), 561–576.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Pao, M., & Bosk, A. (2011). Anxiety in medically ill children/adolescents. Depression and Anxiety,28(1), 40–49. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20727.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Papastergiou, M. (2009). Exploring the potential of computer and video games for health and physical education: A literature review. Computers & Education,53(3), 603–622. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2009.04.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Paperny, D. M., & Starn, J. R. (1989). Adolescent pregnancy prevention by health education computer games: Computer-assisted instruction of knowledge and attitudes. Pediatrics, 83(5), 742–752.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  69. Pempek, T. A., & Calvert, S. L. (2009). Tipping the balance: Use of advergames to promote consumption of nutritious foods and beverages by low-income African American children. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine,163(7), 633–637. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.71.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Primack, B. A., Carroll, M. V., McNamara, M., Klem, M. L., King, B., Rich, M., et al. (2012). Role of video games in improving health-related outcomes: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine,42(6), 630–638. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2012.02.023.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Przeworski, A., & Newman, M. G. (2006). Efficacy and utility of computer-assisted cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders. Clinical Psychologist,10(2), 43–53. https://doi.org/10.1080/13284200500378779.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Rahmani, E., & Boren, S. A. (2012). Videogames and health improvement: A literature review of randomized controlled trials. Games for Health Journal,1(5), 331–341. https://doi.org/10.1089/g4h.2012.0031.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Riley, R. D., Higgins, J. P. T., & Deeks, J. J. (2011). Interpretation of random effects meta-analyses. BMJ,342, d549. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d549.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Shames, R. S., Sharek, P., Mayer, M., Robinson, T. N., Hoyte, E. G., Gonzalez-Hensley, F., ... & Umetsu, D. T. (2004). Effectiveness of a multicomponent self-management program in at-risk, school-aged children with asthma. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 92(6), 611–618.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Shegog, R., Bartholomew, L. K., Parcel, G. S., Sockrider, M. M., Mâsse, L., & Abramson, S. L. (2001). Impact of a computer-assisted education program on factors related to asthma selfmanagement behavior. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 8(1), 49–61.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Sherer, M. (1995). The effect of computerized simulation games on the moral development of youth in distress. Computers in Human Services, 11(1-2), 81–95.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Simonsohn, U., Nelson, L. D., & Simmons, J. P. (2014). P-curve: A key to the file-drawer. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,143, 534–547. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0033242.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Steiner, N. J., Frenette, E. C., Rene, K. M., Brennan, R. T., & Perrin, E. C. (2014). In-school neurofeedback training for ADHD: Sustained improvements from a randomized control trial. Pediatrics,133(3), 483–492. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-2059.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Steiner, N. J., Sheldrick, R. C., Gotthelf, D., & Perrin, E. C. (2011). Computer-based attention training in the schools for children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A preliminary trial. Clinical Pediatrics, 50(7), 615–622.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Tanaka, J. W., Wolf, J. M., Klaiman, C., Koenig, K., Cockburn, J., Herlihy, L., ... & Schultz, R. T. (2010). Using computerized games to teach face recognition skills to children with autism spectrum disorder: The Let’s Face It! program. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(8), 944–952.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Todirita, I. R., & Lupu, V. (2013). Gambling prevention program among children. Journal of Gambling Studies, 29(1), 161–169.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Turnin, M. C., Tauber, M. T., Couvaras, O., Jouret, B., Bolzonella, C., Bourgeois, O., et al. (2001). Evaluation of microcomputer nutritional teaching games in 1876 children at school. Diabetes & Metabolism,27(4 Pt 1), 459–464.

    Google Scholar 

  83. Verbeken, S., Braet, C., Goossens, L., & Van der Oord, S. (2013). Executive function training with game elements for obese children: A novel treatment to enhance self-regulatory abilities for weight-control. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 51(6), 290–299.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  84. Wilkinson, N., Ang, R. P., & Goh, D. H. (2008). Online video game therapy for mental health concerns: A Review. International Journal of Social Psychiatry,54(4), 370–382. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764008091659.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  85. Williamson, A. (2007). Using self-report measures in neurobehavioural toxicology: Can they be trusted? NeuroToxicology,28(2), 227–234. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2006.03.009.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  86. Yien, J. M., Hung, C. M., Hwang, G. J., & Lin, Y. C. (2011). A game-based learning approach to improving students' learning achievements in a Nutrition course. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET, 10(2), 1–10.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a grant awarded to David Oana Alexandra from the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-PT-PCCA-2013-4-1937.

Funding

This work was supported by a grant awarded to Oana A. David from the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS – UEFISCDI [Grant Number PN-II-PT-PCCA-2013-4-1937].

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

We confirm that the manuscript has been read and approved by all named authors and that there are no other persons who satisfied the criteria for authorship but are not listed. We further confirm that the order of authors listed in the manuscript has been approved by all of us. Contributions: The 1st author contributed to the design of the study, coding system, literature search, interpretation of data, and manuscript writing; the 2nd author brought contributions to the literature search, coding, and manuscript writing; the 3rd author brought contributions to the literature search, data coding, and manuscript writing; the 4th author brought contributions to the literature search, data coding, data analysis, interpretation of data, and manuscript writing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Oana Alexandra David.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

We wish to confirm that there are no known conflicts of interest associated with this publication.

Ethics Approval and Consent

This is a review study. The BBU Research Ethics Committee has confirmed that no ethical approval/consent is required.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

David, O.A., Costescu, C., Cardos, R. et al. How Effective are Serious Games for Promoting Mental Health and Health Behavioral Change in Children and Adolescents? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Child Youth Care Forum (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-020-09566-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Systematic review
  • Therapeutic games
  • Children and adolescent
  • Mental health