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Teen girls may benefit more from playing video games with their parents than boys, a study finds

Los Angeles Times

Kids and video games -- the two don’t always have a good association, especially in some studies that suggest playing said games could make children more aggressive and interfere with schoolwork. But a new study finds that when adolescent girls play age-appropriate games with their parents there may be some benefits, such as feeling closer to family members and having better mental health.

Researchers from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, examined questionnaires from 287 parents and their 11- to 16-year-old children who played video games. Boys (65%) outnumbered girls, and they preferred playing more aggressive games with their parents compared to girls -- Call of Duty and Halo, versus Mario Kart/Mario Brothers and Rock Band/Guitar Hero. Both genders played Wii Sports.

But girls seemed to fare better overall from spending time with their parents playing video games. For teen girls, playing age-appropriate video games with their parents was linked with lower levels of depression and anxiety and aggressive behavior. It was less strongly linked with feeling connected with parents. Playing video games that were not age-appropriate was associated with lower feelings of connection with parents and higher levels of depression and anxiety for girls.

The same findings did not hold true for boys who played age-appropriate games with their parents

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The key, say the researchers, may be in the father-daughter connection. “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,” said study co-author Laura Padilla-Walker in a news release. “Co-playing is probably an indicator of larger levels of involvement.”

Since boys spend considerably more time playing video games alone or with friends it could explain why they didn’t have the same parental connection.

“As video games become more popular in the years to come,” the authors wrote, “co-playing (at least with girls) may be one way to stay involved with adolescent activities and to negate at least some of the negative effects of playing video games.”

The study was released recently in the Journal of Adolescent Health.


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