Health & Spirit

Video games to combat STDs

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

"Super Mario Bros 3" (1990) and "Doom" (1993) are two of the top video games ever -- even if they've been left in the dust by 2017's more souped-up "Arms" (Nintendo Switch) and "Dragon Quest Heroes II." But whatever your video game favorites, we're bettin' you never figured there'd be one devoted to preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Well there is, and it's arrived 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 recently developed just such a video game. And according to a new study, it improved sexual health knowledge and attitudes among kids 11 to 14 years old from 12 community after-school, school 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 that while chlamydia, syphilis and sometimes gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, if untreated, they can cause infertility, life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and increased risk for HIV transmission. Need help? Check out the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health's resources for parents about talking to teens about sex and more found at


Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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