Effect of a mobile game–based intervention to enhance child safety: Randomized controlled trial

Rosa Sze Man WONG, Keith T.S. TUNG, Frederick K. W. HO, Wilfred H. S. WONG, Chun Bong CHOW, Ko Ling CHAN, King Wa FU, Patrick IP

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Background: Evidence supports the effectiveness of serious games in health education, but little is known about their effects on the psychosocial well-being of children in the general population. 

Objective: This study aimed to investigate the potential of a mobile game–based safety education program in improving children’s safety and psychosocial outcomes. 

Methods: Safe City is a mobile roleplaying game specifically designed to educate children in Hong Kong about safety. This randomized controlled trial included 340 children in grades 4 through 6. Intervention arm participants (n=170) were instructed to play the Safe City mobile game for 4 weeks, whereas control arm participants (n=170) received a safety booklet. All participants completed a survey on safety knowledge and behaviors and psychosocial problems at baseline (T1), 1 month postintervention (T2), and 3 months postintervention (T3). Cumulative game scores and mini-game performance were analyzed as a proxy for the extent of exposure to the game. Outcome data were analyzed using 2-sample 2-tailed t tests to compare mean change from T1 to T2 and to T3 for intervention versus control arm participants. The association of game use with outcome changes postintervention was analyzed using generalized additive models. 

Results: No significant differences were found in mean changes between the intervention and control arms. However, use analyses showed that higher game scores were associated with improvements in safe behavior (P=.03) and internalizing problems (P=.01) at T3. Matching and Spot the Danger mini-game performance significantly predicted improvements in safety knowledge at T2 and T3. 

Conclusions: Analysis of use has shown that playing the Safe City mobile game can result in significant improvements in safety knowledge and reductions in unsafe behavior and internalizing problems. These findings provide evidence for the positive impact of serious games on psychological and social well-being, highlighting the potential of technology-driven interventions to assist children in learning about safety and preventing injuries. Copyright © 2024 Rosa S Wong, Keith T S Tung, Frederick K W Ho, Wilfred H S Wong, Chun Bong Chow, Ko Ling Chan, King Wa Fu, Patrick Ip. 

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere51908
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


Wong, R. S., Tung, K. T. S., Ho, F. K. W., Wong, W. H. S., Chow, C. B., Chan, K. L., Fu, K. W., & Ip, P. (2024). Effect of a mobile game–based intervention to enhance child safety: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 26, Article e51908. https://doi.org/10.2196/51908


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