It seems like all too often parents send kids to watch TV or play video games as a way to get them out of their hair. But could virtual video game babysitters actually be good for your young daughter? Well, yes, according a new study. At least, kind of.
In a survey of 287 adolescents between the ages of 11 and 16, Sarah M. Coyne, Ph.D. from Brigham Young University, found that kids who played video games with their parents (and in particular their fathers) were better behaved, and more connected to their families than those who who did not.
Previously, researchers were concerned that video games could have a counter effective effect on young, impressionable kids, but for girls, they found the exact opposite result.
The study states, “When parents play video games with their daughters, they may be sending a myriad of messages. First, parents may show that they are willing to engage in an activity that is important to daughters.
“Second, playing video games can represent quality time between a daughter and a parent, especially when such play involves conversation between parent–child.”
In contrast, boys did not experience such positive effects.
“The surprising part about this for me is that girls don’t play video games as much as boys,” explained Coyne.
“But they did spend about the same amount of time co-playing with a parent as boys did.”
Co-author Laura M. Padilla-Walker said, “We’re guessing it’s a daddy-daughter thing, because not a lot of moms said yes when we asked them if they played video games.
“[So] co-playing is probably an indicator of larger levels of involvement.”
Note: The positive effects of gaming only applied to “age appropriate games” like Mario Kart, Mario Brothers, Wii Sports, Rock Band and Guitar Hero – all considered top games for girls. Call of Duty and Halo – two of the top titles for boys – had no positive effects.