Games that "work": using computer games to teach alcohol-affected children about fire and street safety.


Unintentional injuries are a leading cause of death and disability for children. Those with developmental disabilities, including children affected by prenatal alcohol exposure, are at highest risk for injuries. Although teaching safety skills is recommended to prevent injury, cognitive limitations and behavioral problems characteristic of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder make teaching these skills challenging for parents and teachers. In the current study, 32 children, ages 4-10, diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and partial FAS, learned fire and street safety through computer games that employed "virtual worlds" to teach recommended safety skills. Children were pretested on verbal knowledge of four safety elements for both fire and street safety conditions and then randomly assigned to one condition. After playing the game until mastery, children were retested verbally and asked to "generalize" their newly acquired skills in a behavioral context. They were retested after 1 week follow-up. Children showed significantly better knowledge of the game to which they were exposed, immediately and at follow-up, and the majority (72%) was able to generalize all four steps within a behavioral setting. Results suggested that this is a highly effective method for teaching safety skills to high-risk children who have learning difficulties.

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@article{Coles2007GamesT, title={Games that "work": using computer games to teach alcohol-affected children about fire and street safety.}, author={Claire D Coles and Dorothy Strickland and Lynne S. Padgett and Lynnae Bellmoff}, journal={Research in developmental disabilities}, year={2007}, volume={28 5}, pages={518-30} }