By Lori Cunningham
In November, I was invited to attend a summit held in Los Angeles called Games for Girls, hosted by Activision. As a recreational gamer myself, I was excited to attend. I grew up in the Atari and Intellivision gaming days. The graphics were crude but a whole new world had opened up…and I was hooked. Today, I’m still a gamer and now a PlayStation Family Ambassador and I love that both of my kids like a healthy dose of video games too.
Here’s an overview of what I learned at the Summit:
Suzanne Kantra, of Techlicious (one of my fave websites), started off the morning with some very interesting statistics about video games and kids:
Who’s Playing Games?
- over 90% of kids ages 2-17 play games in the US (NPD study)
- There are 65.1 MM gamer households in the US (2010 A&U Study)
- 53 MM classify themselves as consistent gamers
- 10.3 MM have kids ages 8-12 that play: 40% females
- 9.2 MM have kids age 13-17 that play games
Why are Games Good for Girls?
According to Jane McGonigal in her book, “Reality is Broken,” games provide four ingredients that make for a happy meaningful life:
- Satisfying work – something we enjoy
- Real hope for success – good chance you can win
- Strong social connections
- A chance to become a part of something bigger than ourselves
Video games provide intrinsic rewards – they’re fun and make us happy.
Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life study (Feb. 2011) found girls who play video games with a parent enjoyed a number of advantages…they:
- feel more connected to their families
- have stronger mental health
- behave better
Physical Rewards of Gaming
Studies by the Office of Naval Research and the U of Michigan show video games provide:
- faster reaction times
- increased hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity
- increased spatial skills
- allow us to process information faster
- gives us the ability to divide and switch attention, pay attention to more than one object/person – we all multi-task – games help to give us practice
- children who play video games are more creative (2011 study)
- Video games encourage us to think out of the box. ”It is the way video games defy/ignore reality that opens doors in the children’s minds saying it could be otherwise.” – Linda Jackson, professor of psychology at Michigan State. We grow up and learn about boxes and stay in them. Kids don’t know anything about these boxes and can thing so much broader.
- People feel productive when playing video games, you feel like you’re getting something done. You have a clear goal. It is nice to have some things that are predictable and more controllable.
- It’s great to see cause and effect for kids – they happen in a predictable way.
- You become more resilient in the face of failure – gamers spend 80% of their time failing – makes them more resilient to real world failure.
- Improves fundamental abilities to reason and problem solve in novel contexts
- kids are more likely to buy a guitar and learn how to play after having practiced with their virtual guitar in games.
- In every level, they are presented with a new challenge. This becomes the norm. Helps prepare them better for school.
- People who play video games processes information faster.
What Kids Use to Play Games (Kidsay Trend Tracker 2010)
- – 45% of all kids 8-15 plays games on DS
- – 37% of all kids 8-15 play games on their iTouch
- – 37% play games most often on the Internet
Resources to Guide Your Gaming Girl
Limiting Screen Time
- American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1-2 hours of screen time for children older than 2
- June 2010 University of California study: Children who have clear rules about television viewing time are less likely to exceed recommended screen time limits
- Common Sense Media – commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews They have ratings – positive role models, violence, blatant consumerism, the evaluate all these things – Common Sense Media
- ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) esrb.org, iPhone, and Android app
It’s good for kids to know the rating system so when they go to a friends house they know what is appropriate and what is not.
In our next article, we will cover Activision’s recommended games for girls available on the Nintendo DS.
** Images courtesy of http://office.microsoft.com.