Girls who play video games with their parents are generally better behaved and showed lower rates of depression than those who don’t, according to a study.
The benefit, reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health, wasn’t seen in boys, possibly because males spend less time gaming with their families than they did playing video games alone or with friends, the authors said.
Lead author Sarah Coyne, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, said she got the idea after watching her sisters play video games with her mother. The positive effects are probably due to fathers playing with their daughters, since most mothers didn’t report playing, Coyne said.
“When parents are willing to put in the time, they show they’re interested, and I think that level of involvement is having an influence on the outcomes we have,” Coyne said yesterday in a telephone interview.
Coyne’s study involved 287 families with children from ages 11 to 16 years old, who were interviewed in their homes and completed questionnaires about the children’s behavior. Girls were more likely to play collaborative games like Rock Band, where players work together, Coyne said.
Boys were more likely to play games where players competed against one another, according to the report.
The study is the first to show positive associations for girls who play video games with their parents. As the products become more popular, parents who play with their children may be able to alleviate some of their negative effects, and stay more involved with their children, the authors wrote in the report.
Previous research has found that children who play video games an average of 31 hours a week show increased anxiety, depression, and social phobia, and that their school grades decline. In some children, there is hostile behavior, according to the article.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested parents can lessen negative effects of media including video games by joining their children in viewing or playing.