Girls Win When They Play Video Games With Parents: Study

Co-playing age-appropriate games can improve behavior, family connections, findings suggest

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TUESDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Finally some good news for families about gaming: girls who play video games with their parents behave better, have stronger mental health and feel more connected to their families, according to a new study.

Researchers at Brigham Young University's School of Family Life looked at 287 families with a child aged 11 to 16. They found that the most popular video games among girls were Mario Kart, Mario Brothers, Wii Sports, Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Meanwhile, the most popular games among boys were Call of Duty, Wii Sports and Halo.

Girls didn't play video games as often as boys did, but both boys and girls spent about the same amount of time playing video games with their parents, the study found.

While gaming with their parents had little influence on behavior, aggression, family connection or mental health among the boys, the investigators found that among girls, the activity accounted for as much as 20 percent of the variation in these areas.

The positive effects in girls were strongest when they played age-appropriate video games. And, the researchers pointed out that fathers were much more likely than mothers to play video games with their children.

"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," study co-author Laura Padilla-Walker said in a university news release. "Co-playing is probably an indicator of larger levels of involvement."

But you don't have to play video games to create a good child-parent connection, the researchers advised.

"Any face-to-face time you have with your child can be a positive thing, especially if the activity is something the child is interested in," Padilla-Walker explained.

The findings are published in the Feb. 1 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers tips for positive parenting.

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