Quality Time Over Mario Kart May Strengthen Family Ties

Video games may help strengthen the bond between parents and daughters.

ByABC News
January 31, 2011, 3:40 PM

Feb. 1, 2011— -- Parents, and even some researchers, have long blamed video games for such problems as obesity, violence, depression and detachment from family and friends.

But Brigham Young University School of Family Life researchers stand by a positive notion that could surprise some people: Video games may help strengthen the bond between parents and their daughters.

While some doctors would say video games and other sources of so-called screen time offer little if any health benefits, this study begs to differ.

The study found that girls who played video games with a parent behaved better, felt more connected to their families and had better mental health than those girls who did not play video games with their parents.

Researchers also found that these game-playing gals had lower levels of internalization of emotions and higher levels of social behavior with their family members than those who did not play video games with parents. But, there was no evidence of such benefits with boys.

"Playing video games with your girls could be a really good thing," said Sarah Coyne, Ph.D., assistant professor of family life at Brigham Young University and lead author of the study. "It's the face-to-face time with an adolescent culture-type of game. When parents play with their kids, they're saying, 'I'm willing to do what you what you like to do.'"

It is important to note that positive bonding time was only associated with age-appropriate video games. Mario Kart, Mario Brothers, Wii Sports, Rock Band and Guitar Hero topped the list of games that girls most often played, while boys played Call of Duty, Wii Sports and Halo most often.

Researchers found that if the game was rated M for Mature, feelings of family connectedness weakened overall.