Becoming a parent signals the end of a few previously commonplace adult activities. No longer can you stay out until 3am with your friends or afford to take a decent vacation, however not all is lost.
According to researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah, dads who play video games with their daughters can actually improve their child’s overall sense of happiness and wellbeing. Adolescent girls who play age-appropriate video games with a parent, often dad, have been found to have better family connections than those who didn’t.
After studying around 280 families, BYU researchers published their findings in the Journal of Adolescent Health, finding a link between time spent playing video games with parents and overall happiness in girls age 11 to 16. Laura Padilla-Walker, one of the study’s researchers, told LiveScience the findings only strengthen the idea that parental bonding time is essential, and that video games are “Just another way to be involved with your kids.”
The study found that young girls who played age-appropriate games, such as Mario Kart and Guitar Hero, were often better behaved and felt a deeper connection to their families than those who don’t. However, boys in the same study showed no significant change, likely due to the titles they played, such as Halo and Call of Duty, as well as the sheer amount of time they spent on average playing video games in general. Other studies have actually found that boys who play video games in excess, especially the age-inappropriate ones, actually end up doing worse in school and are often unhappier, likely due to decreased time spent with family and friends.
Researchers stress that the study only showed a link between family game time and happiness, not whether one directly causes the other, however, Padilla-Walker still says “I think we can encourage more parents to play video games with their kids, especially age-appropriate games.”
So dust off your console and stretch out those gaming muscles, dads. Science says it’s for the best and who are we to question science?