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Can Video Games be Used to Combat STDs?

Can Video Games be Used to Combat STDs?

Super Mario Bros 3 and Doom are two of the top video games ever made—even if they’ve been left in the dust by the more modern, souped-up Arms and Dragon Quest Heroes II. But whatever your video game preference, we’re betting you never figured there’d be one devoted to preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Well there is, and it’s none too soon. STDs (particularly chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) have hit an all-time high in the U.S.

To help stop transmission of STDs, researchers at Yale University developed just such a video game. And according to a study, it improved sexual health knowledge and attitudes among kids 11 to 14 years old from 12 community school, afterschool and summer programs. Out of 300 kids, the group who played the game, which has students make decisions in realistic situations, was more likely to answer sexual health questions correctly and had a healthier attitude toward sexual behavior. 

Although the video game isn’t yet available to the public, you can help protect your child from contracting an STD by having conversations with them about the risks. Like in the video game, discuss different social scenarios that might happen and ways to react that increase protection. Explain to them that while chlamydia, syphilis and sometimes gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, if left untreated, they can cause infertility, life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth and increased risk for HIV transmission.

Need help? Check out the HHS Office of Adolescent Health for a guide on talking to teens about sex. 

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