Emotionally Calming Video Games Help Kids In Tough Times

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston-based medical researchers and video game developers have teamed up to create a video game that requires children to remain calm while they play it.

"[We knew] we could reach kids if we were where they were," said Dr. Jason Kahn, a researcher at Boston Children's Hospital who focuses on the creation of new technology to aid in mental health care. "We could build games that could let them see their emotions, and play with their emotions. We knew we could have a really positive impact."

Working alongside Dr. Kahn's team, Boston-based company Mightier has developed dozens of video games that use a "biofeedback algorithm" to teach kids "emotional calming skills."

Children can play games like Doctor Dragon or Race To The Sun while wearing a tiny heart monitoring device, which Mightier says allows kids to "actually see what they're feeling.... [which] helps reinforce the connection between heart rate and emotions."

According to Mightier, research from Boston's Children's Hospital found their 12-week program of emotionally-calming video games reduced child outbursts by 62 percent, oppositional behavior by 40 percent, and parents' stress levels by 19 percent.

Dr. Kahn told WBZ NewsRadio Mightier's new video game Hibachi Hero works by responding to a child's physical reaction to the game, encouraging them to notice how they're feeling and focus on being calm.

"As you hit the moments of frustration, the game is going to get harder," said Dr. Kahn. "If your heart rate gets too high, smoke comes up from the bottom of a screen, and you can't actually see... So for a kid, your motivation is to calm yourself back down, and the smoke will clear."

WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports:

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(Photo: Chris Fama/Twitter)

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