A Mobile Game (Safe City) Designed to Promote Children’s Safety Knowledge and Behaviors: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

Rosa S Wong, Keith TS Tung, Hiu Tung Wong, Frederick KW Ho, Hing Sang Wong, King-Wa Fu, Ting Chuen Pong, Ko Ling Chan, Chun Bong Chow, Patrick Ip

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Background: Children have high levels of curiosity and eagerness to explore. This makes them more vulnerable to danger and hazards, and they thus have a higher risk of injury. Safety education such as teaching safety rules and tips is vital to prevent children from injuries. Although game-based approaches have the potential to capture children’s attention and sustain their interest in learning, whether these new instructional approaches are more effective than traditional approaches in delivering safety messages to children remains uncertain. Objective: The aim of this study is to test the effectiveness of a game-based intervention in promoting safety knowledge and behaviors among Hong Kong school children in Grades 4-6. It will also examine the potential effect of the game-based intervention on these children’s functioning and psychosocial difficulties. Methods: This study comprises the development of a city-based role-playing game Safe City, where players are immersed as safety inspectors to prevent dangerous situations and promote safety behavior in a virtual city environment. The usability and acceptability tests will be conducted with children in Grades 4-6 who will trial the gameplay on a mobile phone. Adjustments will be made based on their feedback. A 4-week randomized controlled trial with children studying in Grades 4-6 in Hong Kong elementary schools will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the Safe City game–based intervention. In this trial, 504 children will play Safe City, and 504 children will receive traditional instructional materials (electronic and printed safety information). The evaluation will be conducted using both child self-report and parent proxy-report data. Specifically, child safety knowledge and behaviors will be assessed by a questionnaire involving items on knowledge and behaviors, respectively, for home safety, road safety, and sport-related safety; child functioning will be assessed by PedsQL Generic Core Scales; and psychosocial difficulties will be assessed by the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. These questionnaires will be administered at 3 time points: before, 1 month, and 3 months after the intervention. Game usage statistics will also be reviewed. Results: This project was funded in September 2019. The design and development of the Safe City game are currently under way. Recruitment and data collection will begin from September 2020 and will continue up to March 1, 2021. Full analysis will be conducted after the end of the data collection period. Conclusions: If the Safe City game is found to be an effective tool to deliver safety education, it could be used to promote safety in children in the community and upgraded to incorporate more health-related topics to support education and empowerment for the larger public. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04096196; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04096196 International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): PRR1-10.2196/17756
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17756
JournalJMIR Res Protoc
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2020


  • serious game
  • safety training
  • mobile game
  • mobile phone
  • injury prevention
  • randomized controlled trial
  • game-based intervention


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