Video game helps children with anger issues learn to control emotions

Oct 25, 2012
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A study has been conducted at Boston Children's Hospital using a video game called Rage Control. The study investigated helping children learn to control anger issues by learning to control their emotions. The study was created by Jason KAHN PhD and Joseph González-Heydrich at Boston Children's Hospital.

The game itself sounds a lot like Space Invaders and involves the kids shooting enemy spaceships while avoiding shooting at friendly ones. The kids who play the game have a monitor attached to one finger that tracks the heart rate and displays it on the computer screen. If the kid's heart rate goes above a certain level, they lose the ability to shoot enemy spaceships.

To be able to regain the ability to shoot enemy spaceships, they have to reduce their heart rate by learning to be calm and control their emotions. The study compared two groups of kids between 9 and 17 years old who had high levels of anger. Kids who participated in the study had to have a normal IQ and couldn't have required a medication change during the five-day study period.

One group used in the study had 19 children who received standard treatment for anger, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and social skills training for five consecutive business days. The second group of participants included 18 children who received the same treatment, but spent the last 15 minutes of psychotherapy sessions playing Rage Control. The study found that after five sessions, the kids who played the video game were significantly better at keeping the heart rate down and showed clinically significant decreases in anger scores on the State Trait Anger Expression Inventory-Child and Adolescent.


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