A videogame designed by Yale researchers to promote health and reduce risky behavior in teens improves sexual health knowledge and attitudes among minority youth, according to a new study. The findings validate the value of the videogame as a tool to engage and educate teens at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), said the researchers.
"We saw significant and sustained positive changes in terms of attitudes about sexual health and sexual health knowledge," said Lynn Fiellin, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and in the Child Study Center.
Adolescents are significantly affected by HIV and other STIs, yet many lack access to sexual health education that could minimize their risks, said the researchers, who note that videogames offer an accessible, portable tool for promoting health and reducing risky behavior among teenagers, particularly minority youth who are disproportionately impacted.
Led by Fiellin, the research team recruited more than 300 students, ages 11 to 14, from afterschool and summer programs in the New Haven area for the study. For six weeks, the youth either played the intervention game PlayForward: Elm City Stories, or one of several unrelated videogames on iPad tablets for up to 75 minutes twice per week. Designed with teen and expert input, PlayForward is a serious role-playing videogame that engages youth with a variety of challenges and choices in fictional yet realistic life situations. Read more via Science Daily