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25 April 2024

Video games good for girls... only with mom, dad

Picture used for illustrative purposes only. (GETTY IMAGES)

By Agency

A new study found that video games can have benefits for teen girls - as long as they play with their parents.

The research found that girls aged 11 to 16 who played video games with a parent behaved better, felt more connected to their families and had better mental health than girls who played with friends or on their own. The study, by researchers at Brigham Young University's School of Family Life, and published Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health, examined 287 families with teens.

"It's the face-to-face time, the interaction, that matters," said psychology professor Sarah Coyne, the lead author of the study. "Video games are kind of an adolescent thing. When a parent says 'I'm going to sit down and do what you're going to do,' that sends a different message entirely," Coyne said. She guesses that it is mainly dads, rather than moms, playing games with their daughters.

The researchers found that boys, not surprisingly, play more video games than girls, but that both sexes spend about the same amount of time playing with parents. For boys, playing with a parent, though, did not seem to have any measurable benefit. That is probably because the time boys play with parents is just a "drop in the bucket," compared to the overall time they spend gaming, Coyne said.

The researchers only found benefits when the games were age-appropriate. When games were rated M for mature, daughters and parents seemed to bond less. "Such games are often very intense and may interfere with conversation or interaction that may lead to heightened levels of connection," the study said.