Signup for our Newsletter!

Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates.

Games to Teach Mindfulness and Compassion to Adolescents

Video games are a significant component of children’s lives in the United States. According to a 2009 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a child in the United States (age 8-18) spends an average of 73 minutes per day playing games. Because a well-designed game can engage a child’s attention for entertainment purposes, it only makes sense to leverage this interest in a way that can have a meaningful impact on children’s learning and development.

In collaboration with the Games+Learning+Society Center, we've developed two pilot games: Tenacity and Crystals of Kaydor. We designed Tenacity in efforts to help children improve and learn to self-regulate their attention. Crystals of Kaydor is designed to help children develop empathy and pro-social behavior. In addition, the game seeks to promote social interactions with peers that are collaborative, cooperative and kind.

Improving children’s skills in detecting subtle social signals is a key building block for empathy and compassion throughout life. To determine if both games have their intended effects, we are evaluating the effects of gameplay using neuroimaging and behavioral measures.

The games were developed several years ago for this research project. With recent advancements in technology, further support and development would be needed to make it available for future research or other applications.

People Working on This Study

Nagesh Adluru
Nagesh Adluru
Assistant Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds
Cory Burghy
Assistant Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds
Richard J. Davidson
Founder, Center for Healthy Minds & Healthy Minds Innovations, William James & Vilas Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry
Lisa Flook
Lisa Flook
Associate Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds
Tammi Kral
Graduate Student, Department of Psychology and the Center for Healthy Minds
Elena Patsenko
Research Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds
Kurt Squire
Kurt Squire
Professor of Digital Media in Curriculum and Instruction; and Co-Director, Games+Learning+Society, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Constance Steinkuehler
Constance Steinkuehler
Associate Professor in Digital Media and Co-Director of the Games+Learning+Society Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Jeanette Mumford
Associate Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds

Related Publications

Kral, T. R. A., Stodola, D. E., Birn, R. M., Mumford, J. A., Solis, E., Flook, L., Patsenko, E. G., Anderson, C. G., Steinkuehler, C., & Davidson, R. J. (2018). Neural correlates of video game empathy training in adolescents: A randomized trial. npj Science of Learning3(13), 1-10. doi:10.1038/s41539-018-0029-6 PMCID: PMC6220300
Give Now
Support the Research
Are you interested in taking part in scientific research?
Learn More