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Does Gaming Together Improve Parent/Daughter Relationships?

by Matt Helgeson on Feb 01, 2011 at 09:30 AM

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If there's one thing that we hate, it's those bad studies that say gaming can have negative effects on people! That's silly. Gaming doesn't affect our behavior. Unless, those effects are positive ones, in which case the studies are totally awesome and accurate.

For example, a new study to be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health says that gaming with your children, specifically your daughter, can have positive effects on your relationship with your child. Here's an excerpt:

"We found an association between co-playing of video games and lowered internalizing (e.g., depression/anxiety) and aggressive behavior. Furthermore, girls who co-played with their parents reported more prosocial behavior toward family members, which may be a function of higher relationship quality between daughters and parents who co-play. These findings certainly confirm parents' own views of co-playing, who believe that co-playing would result in positive social and emotional outcomes. Furthermore, they allay fears that co-playing video games results in negative outcomes, at least for girls."

The study found that girls who played "age appropriate" games with their parents had a greater connection with their parents and exhibited fewer mental health issues and aggressive behavior.

Well, that's nice. It's certainly good to spend time doing fun things with your kids. However, the study was carried out by having "287 families with children between 11 and 16 years old complete video game-, behavioral-, and family-related questionnaires."

Some problems with that: One, that's a small sample group. Two, studies based on self-reporting are notoriously inaccurate. In fact, these are some of the same type of methodologies that are used in the numerous studies that purport to "prove" some specious link between gaming and violent behavior. It's very possible that families that game together do more activities together in general, come from more affluent economic groups, and other myriad factors that could impact this study's finding.

Again, it makes good sense that gaming with your child is a good idea. It helps you bond over a mutual interest and lets you keep tabs on the kinds of games you kid is playing. But it's a bit rich that the ESA questions the validity of studies that show gaming in a negative light but not the ones that show it in a positive light.

[Source: MSNBC]