SA Journal of Education, Vol 41, No 1 (2021)

Improving cognition in school children and adolescents through exergames. A systematic review and practical guide

Sebastián López-Serrano, Alberto Ruiz-Ariza, Manuel De La Torre-Cruz, Emilio J. Martínez-López


Recent studies and reviews have shown the positive effects of exergames (EXs) on physical activity (PA) and fitness in children and adolescents. Nevertheless, their effects on cognition have been scarcely explored, and no previous review has focussed on this relationship. The purpose of the research reported on here was to analyse the acute and chronic effects of the use of different EXs on the cognition of young people aged 6 to 18 years, to review potential confounders, and to elaborate a practical guide to using EXs in schools or extracurricular contexts. Studies were identified from 4 databases (Pubmed, SportDiscus, ProQuest and Web of Science) from January 2008 through January 2018. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria. All the studies showed a positive effect of EXs on cognition. The review showed an acute improvement effect on executive functions (EFs) (visual attention, mental processing, working memory, response inhibition, and motor planning) and chronic benefits on mathematical calculation, self-concept, classroom behaviour, and on parental and interpersonal relationships. Only 5 studies used confounders. EXs are an effective and motivating tool to improve cognition in young people aged 6 to 18 years. Didactic recommendations to use EXs in school or extracurricular contexts are provided in this article.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Sebastián López-Serrano -
Alberto Ruiz-Ariza -
Manuel De La Torre-Cruz -
Emilio J. Martínez-López -

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