By Joe Winburn, MEd, ATC/L
St. Joseph’s/Candler Manager of Sports Medicine
The virtual world is upon us, but the question is how does it affect the children of the today’s society? It is expanded to cover everything from chat rooms to games to exercise. Is this the way we finally get the kids who send hours a day or week on the computer off the couch and exercising by designing a interactive game that is also a form of exercise? One of the big games out there is Dance Dance Revolution where you follow the steps on the screen; supposedly it is a lot of fun and gives you quite the workout. Others are: tennis, bowling and boxing (MoCap Boxing) interactive games. Play Station and Xbox also have their own version of exercise interactive games. Researchers at the University of Southern California have been studying the effects of the virtual world on today’s generation and states that virtual games like Club Penguin and Webkinz have become more popular with 6- to -14 year olds in the last two years then many other games. They state that the memberships to these sites are in the ten of millions.
How far will the world of virtual reality go? So far in a positive light it is being used in a children’s hospital in Ohio to distract burn victims while they receive treatments. Educational arena uses role playing and interactive scenarios to teach kids about difficult subjects such as ethics. Other aspects the virtual world has expanded to is opening kids gyms for ages 13-18 such as Overtime, these new futurist gyms offer virtual reality games to improve teens fitness levels. The gym is playing on the teen’s love of technology and video games. They offer workouts such as the Dance Dance Revolution to virtual reality bikes that makes you feel as if you are a rider that is racing around an apple orchard.
Is this the wave of the future? Gone are the days of running outside as soon as you get up to play with your friends, going out for a bike ride or playing sports with others as a team or one on one basis. Let’s get back to old schooling of being with others and having fun while exercising and playing sports with your best friend. Here is a thought: man verses man or man verses the computer, which one is in your future?