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The Gaming Treatment: Pediatric patients use technology-based games to manage stress

The Gaming Treatment Pediatric patients use technology-based games to manage stress

Guest Blogger: Amanda Pope, Director of Marketing & PLAY for Good, AFTER-MOUSE.COM

Today’s methods of play have expanded with the introduction and adoption of technology. While schoolyard pick-up games and traditional board games are the icon images of children playing, the reality is that a staggering 91% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 now play technology-based games. Despite this rapid adoption, there is still little guidance on how to effectively harness technology-based play for therapy and healing.

Most guidance for children’s interaction with technology is based on “screen time,” the amount of time a child should spend looking at a digital screen. Technology, however, has progressed beyond the linear, sedentary relationship between child and screen. Child Life and other psychological professionals working with medically ill children use play methods to help pediatric patients cope with stress and process difficult situations.

Whether its addressing short-term boredom or managing anxiety during on-going treatment, providing pediatric patients with psychological support is critical for their long-term health and well-being. With 15 multi-player, multi-touch games designed for children, AFTER-MOUSE.COM’s PLAY for Good initiative is working with children’s health and well-being organizations, including Ronald McDonald House Charity of Alabama, Ronald McDonald House of Tampa Bay, and UMass Memorial Medical Center, among many others, to bring the empowering and healing benefits of collaborative play to children with the PLAY touch table.

Emerging data is beginning to organize technology-based games into recognized therapeutic and healing categories. Child’s Play Charity, in collaboration with EEDAR, developed the following recommendation for selecting technology-based games to address specific pediatric patient conditions:

Patient Condition Recommended Type of Technology Game Play
Pain Easy-to-learn game mechanics and rewarding, short game sessions – games that can engage a player’s mind and body is especially effective for pain management.
Boredom (Short-Term Stay) Experiences that are smaller in scope and can

be played quickly – games that are designed to be replayed many times over, with rules that are easy to understand but

difficult to master.

Boredom (Long-Term Stay) Emphasize story and have more nuanced mechanics that may take a while for players to fully understand – games designed to hold a player’s attention over many play sessions.
Anxiety/Hyperactivity Avoid the high-intensity play – games that focus on gentler experiences that engage a player’s critical thinking skills and creativity.
Sadness Rewarding gameplay and pleasant overall atmosphere – games featuring relatable, charming characters and forgiving difficulty options to keep players from becoming discouraged.
Cognitive Impairment Simplified mechanics – games that place an emphasis on play and experimentation as opposed to winning or losing.

The potential of technology-based games to positively impact children’s mental health during stressful and uncomfortable medical procedures adds to the toolkit of available tactics for professionals in the field of child psychology. Utilizing familiar play constructs, these games offer fun, collaborative interactions that support healing and well-being to address children’s mental wealth while they are undergoing treatment for their physical health.

To learn more check out after-mouse.com

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