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Currently submitted to: JMIR Serious Games

Date Submitted: Jun 3, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Jun 6, 2019 - Aug 1, 2019
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Physical activity, gaming and virtual reality: the views of parents of adolescents

  • Lucy McMichael; 
  • Nuša Farič; 
  • Katie Newby; 
  • Henry WW Potts; 
  • Adrian Hon; 
  • Lee Smith; 
  • Andrew Steptoe; 
  • Abi Fisher


Virtual reality (VR) exergaming may be a promising avenue to engage adolescents with physical activity (PA). Since parental support is a consistent determinant of adolescent PA, it is crucial to gather the views of parents of adolescents about this type of intervention.


The aim of this study was to interview parents of adolescents (13-17 year olds) about PA, gaming and VR.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 parents of adolescents aged 13-17 years. Data was synthesized using framework analysis.


Parents believed encouraging PA in adolescents was important (particularly for mental health benefits) and most thought their child was not active enough. Parents reported their adolescents gamed regularly, with perceptions of gaming mostly negative due to violent content of the games and a potential for addiction. However, parents were permissive of gaming mainly because they wanted children to have autonomy of choice in leisure time and because they used screens frequently and did not want to appear hypocritical. Parents discussed an inability to relate to gaming due to ‘generational differences’ but an exception was exergaming, which they had played with their children in the past (e.g. Wii Fit). They commented that adolescents are ‘tough consumers’ who would only engage with high-end graphics and high game quality. Specific recommendations for promoting a VR exergaming intervention were provided, but ultimately parents strongly supported harnessing gaming for any positive purpose.


The current study suggests promise for a VR exergaming intervention, but this must be framed in a way that it addresses parental concerns, particularly around addiction, violence and safety, without actively involving them participating. While parents would rather their children performed ‘real world’ PA, they believed the key to engaging them was through technology. Overall, there was the perception that harnessing gaming and sedentary screen-time for a positive purpose would be strongly supported.


Please cite as:

McMichael L, Farič N, Newby K, Potts HW, Hon A, Smith L, Steptoe A, Fisher A

Physical activity, gaming and virtual reality: the views of parents of adolescents

JMIR Preprints. 03/06/2019:14920

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.14920


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