Wanted: More Playful Parents

21 Feb

Dad girl videogameSome recent research has cropped up about co-playing video games that I’d like to share. Both yield some results that we can learn some lessons from.

First, a recent article in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that girls benefit more than boys from co-playing video games. This article first caught my eye in a blog post by Geek Dad. The researchers surveyed 287 adolescents and their parents about their game-playing habits. First, analyzing all kids in the study, it was found that time spent playing video games was associated with several negative outcomes, including heightened internalizing and aggressive behavior and lowered prosocial behavior. The big difference came when looking at girls versus boys who co-played with parents: Girls who co-played age-appropriate games with their parents were found to have better behavior, felt more connected to their families, and had stronger mental health. Parents did not co-play very often, but when they did, it made a difference.

Another interesting piece about co-playing video games appeared on the Joan Ganz Cooney Center blog, where Mindy Brooks described some formative research being done on an intergenerational computer literacy game. According to her description of this pilot-testing, most parents did not understand their roles in game-play, and felt obligated to “teach” instead of play. The game producers revised the game to include a video tutorial at the beginning, a point system to monitor each players’ progress, and several clickable support items. These changes helped parents play more and teach less.

Taken together, these two recent reports indicate that parents need to loosen up! Playing more with your kids not only has positive outcomes for your kids, but makes your experience more enjoyable for yourself. Taking time out of your day to co-play video games with your kids – especially girls, apparently – has some very positive effects.

One Response to “Wanted: More Playful Parents”

  1. David Kleeman 02/21/2011 at 2:05 pm #

    The most interesting format I saw at last week’s Kidscreen Summit was “Talkie Time,” from Cbeebies and BBC Learning. It demands co-viewing with a parent or teacher (or, the producers have found, older siblings often love playing the interactive role) — the adult reads on-screen words to seemingly interact with the host.


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