Physical and Cognitive Impacts of Digital Games on Older Adults: A Meta-Analytic Review

Fan Zhang, David Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to examine the physical and cognitive impacts of digital games on older adults. We conducted five independent meta-analyses by reporting 58 effect sizes generated from 36 studies. Results suggested that playing digital games is effective in improving older adults' physical balance (g = 0.67), balance confidence (g = 0.46), functional mobility (g = 0.53), executive function (g = 0.76), and processing speed (g = 0.54). Based on the results of heterogeneity analysis, we conducted moderator analyses for physical balance and processing speed. Key findings included the following: Playing digital games can not only improve the physical balance of older adults living in community but also those living in nursing homes; the relationship between age of participants or amount of time of gameplay and effect size is weak and the direction of the relationship is not definitive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1210
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • digital games
  • meta-analysis
  • older adults
  • physical and cognitive abilities


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