Quality Time Over Mario Kart May Strengthen Family Ties

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Venus vs. Mars

"In general, boys are more competitive with people they care about, and girls are more likely to cooperate with people they care about," Myers-Walls said. "I think the girl issue is probably partly related to being less cut-throat competitive with others, and they probably don't play violent games."

Violent games, like Call of Duty and Halo, tend to be individual in nature, whereas games like Guitar Hero are collaborative, cooperative and less aggressive, Myers-Walls noted.

"I don't know if you can really feel connected while playing those violent games, but with a cooperative game like Rock Band, you have to save each other and work together as a band. That fosters cooperation and communication," Coyne said.

And Myers-Walls agreed that cooperative efforts tend to foster positive family dynamics.

"They can talk about stuff, make decisions together, where they're not just trying to beat each other," she said. "You may end up talking strategy and supporting each other on how well the other has done without saying, 'gee, I beat you.'

"The games that you see kids getting lost in are those single-person games," she said. "Once they get there, they're in cyberspace somewhere and they won't pay attention to whether they missed dinner or anything like that."

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