UW Madison’s “Tenacity” Reveals Benefits Of Mindfulness For Middle School Students

Over the last few years there have been many scientific studies revealing the big benefits of mindfulness for middle school students [READ: Best Mindfulness Activities].

One new study adding to that research is a mindfulness game from University of Wisconsin-Madison, which explores the benefits of mindfulness for middle school students.

By now it is well known knowledge that we can achieve good things for our health just by sitting still and focusing on the breath for a few minutes. It gives the mind a break and offers an opportunity to let go of stress, anxiety and other problems that we are all prone to. This is true for all of us whether we be adults, kids or teens.

Many parents understand why their kids need mindfulness today. There is pressure everywhere. And our kids are just as likely to develop anxiety problems as we ourselves are. The problem for many adults is knowing precisely how to get your kids meditating. One good solution is via a game.

Kids love games. Just ask Super Mario. And though many parents disapprove of the amount of time their kids spend gaming, video games can be beneficial.

One way games can help kids is by teaching them mindfulness. The Center For Healthy Minds has designed and tested a game about mindfulness for middle school students. It’s called Tenacity.

It is a very simple game. The idea is to simply count breaths while tapping on a screen. The player journeys through various scenes, all of which are designed for relaxation (such as outer space and ancient ruins). All the player does is count four breaths by tapping, and then double-tapping on the fifth breath. When a cycle of breaths is counted correctly the player advances in their journey.

It sounds almost laughably simple. And you might wonder whether such a simple mindfulness game could possibly have any real benefits. The researchers wanted to know the same thing. So they ran an experiment. They asked middle school students to play the game for thirty minutes a day for two weeks. One group played the highly popular “Fruit Ninja”. The other group played the mindfulness game. The results shows that when playing the game resulted in changes in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the left inferior parietal cortex. When asked to perform an attention task, the group who played Tenacity performed much better than the group who had played Fruit Ninja.   This shows that video games designed in certain ways can indeed help middle school students with mindfulness and attention.

This game adds to the growing number of relaxing meditation games, along with the ever popular mindfulness apps like Headspace or Calm.

The good news is that something kids naturally love, playing games, can be used to improve their health and even to help improve their performance in school.

What do you think of mindfulness games for middle school students? Are they a valuable tool or simply a current fad? Leave a comment and remember to subscribe .

See our top children’s mindfulness apps here.


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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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