By Anne Collier
A study about kids and videogaming just published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found benefits for girls who play with their parents (and no real upside for boys). Slightly surprising to the authors, they told the Vancouver Sun they found “an increase in pro-social behaviour, a decrease in aggression and a stronger bond with parents. But when it came to boys, the study found absolutely no statistical difference in behaviour, regardless of whether a boy played alone, with a friend or a parent.” [I loved the Sun’s lede: “Time to share the Xbox, Dad” (or rather buy another controller!).] The researchers said they could only speculate about the difference at this point but thought it may partly be because boys play so much more than girls that playtime with parents is like a “drop in the bucket.” They also speculate it might have to do with the types of games played. Girls, they say, play more “cooperative” games such as Mario games and Guitar Hero, while boys are more into “violent games such as Call of Duty and Halo.” (Hmm, hope there’s no gender bias, there.) In its coverage, a Wall Street Journal blog, mentioned one qualifier: “The researchers only found benefits when the games were age-appropriate.” Parents and daughters seem to bond less when playing M-rated games (M for “Mature”), whose intensity, the researchers, say may reduce the kind of communication that allows for “heightened levels of connection. But maybe players of M games connect in a different way, maybe over a slightly longer period of time?