Instant Guide

Why playing video games is good for girls

Surprise! A new study claims gaming might actually have some benefits... for girls who play with their parents

While the prevailing wisdom is that playing video games doesn't do kids — or adults, for that matter — any favors, a new study says the opposite may be true... at least for girls. Research out of Brigham Young University has found that gaming is actually good for girls, provided they play with a parent. Here, an instant guide:

How are video games good for girls?
The study, which involved 287 families with children aged 11 to 16, saw a 20 percent increase in "positive indicators" — improved mental health, better behavior, an increased feeling of being connected to family — for those girls who played with a parent. "Any face-to-face time you have with your child can be a positive thing," says the study's co-author Laura Padilla-Walker, "especially if the activity is something the child is interested in."

Are video games good for boys too?
Not so much. Gaming with a parent provided no measurable benefit to boys. That's likely because time spent playing with a parent is nothing more than a "drop in the bucket," says psychology professor Sarah Coyne, the study's lead author, compared to how much overall time many boys spend playing video games.

Were there benefits no matter what game parents played with their daughters?
No. Benefits were only seen when age-appropriate games were played, not those that are rated M for mature. When parents and daughters played those games, they didn't seem to bond as much. "Such games are often very intense and may interfere with conversation or interaction that may lead to heightened levels of connection," the study says.

What games did study participants typically play?
The boys tended to play Call of Duty, Wii Sports, and Halo, while the girls favored Mario Kart, Mario Brothers, Wii Sports, Rock Band, and Guitar Hero.

What have other studies on the subject found?
Previous research has indicated that kids who play video games for an average of 31 hours per week are at an increased risk of anxiety, depression, social phobia, and poor grades.

Sources: Wired, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg

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