Video games benefit girls if parent plays

Feb. 2, 2011 at 10:46 PM
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PROVO, Utah, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Girls who play video games with a parent behave better, feel more connected to their family and have stronger mental health, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Sarah Coyne and co-author Laura Padilla-Walker of Brigham Young University's School of Family Life conducted a study on video games involving 287 families with an adolescent child age 11-16.

Mario Kart, Mario Brothers, Wii Sports, Rock Band and Guitar Hero topped the list of games played most often by girls. Call of Duty, Wii Sports and Halo ranked in the top three among boys.

"The surprising part about this for me is that girls don't play video games as much as boys," Coyne says in a statement. "But they did spend about the same amount of time co-playing with a parent as boys did."

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, finds playing with a parent was not a statistically significant factor for any of the outcomes for boys -- positive behavior, aggression, family connection, mental health -- but playing with a parent accounted for as much as 20 percent of the variation on those measured outcomes among girls.

"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," Padilla-Walker says.

It may be that boys playing with parents doesn't stand out as much because they spend far more time playing with friends, the researchers speculate.

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