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Home  >  Medical Research Archives  >  Issue 149  > The Need to ‘Git Gud’: A Review of Potential and Pitfalls in Mobile Gamification of Paediatric Health Education
Published in the Medical Research Archives
Mar 2024 Issue

The Need to ‘Git Gud’: A Review of Potential and Pitfalls in Mobile Gamification of Paediatric Health Education

Published on Mar 27, 2024




Conventional health initiatives aimed at paediatric populations struggle heavily with inefficacy. The ubiquity and utility of mobile devices offer a promising way to reach broad and distinct populations, cross-cultural demographics, and socioeconomic strata. As children and adolescents are accustomed to smartphones and related technology, this medium potentially can bridge the divide between health interventions and their daily lives. Conventional and previously attempted mobile interventions struggle with a bipartite hurdle that cripples their effectiveness: first, the production and preservation of motivation and second, the lack thereof within youth. Non-adoption, attrition, and eventual abandonment have led to mediocre efficacy. In the face of this challenge, the incorporation of game elements with health behaviours, by way of serious games and gamification, has hinted at a vast, yet untapped ability to circumvent this problem of engagement. However, the current application of game elements has not produced expected levels of results. This review not only examines potential causes for this inefficacious gamification, but also works to delineate a path forward.

Methods: A scoping search of extant academic literature was conducted using three databases, Web of Science, ERIC, and PsycInfo. Articles were evaluated by relevance, being required to pertain to mobile health, gamification, and paediatric populations.

Results: A total of 20 journal articles met the inclusion criteria and consequently were evaluated. The included papers were a plethora of studies including randomized controlled trials, mixed methods experiment, and systematic reviews. The current literature suggests substantial potential is carried by both mobile health applications and gamification, especially in relation to difficult-to-reach paediatric populations. Secondarily, examination of the articles brought existing shortcomings to the surface.

Conclusions: Mobile health and gamification present an incredible, pioneering opportunity to reach children and adolescents. Given the challenges associated with the acceptance of conventional interventions, current and future research should continue to explore the utility of mobile health. To combat the lackluster engagement and motivation also connected to the aforementioned initiatives, the incorporation of game elements should not simply be implemented, but further investigated and improved.

Author info

Gabriel Malvas

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