Health

Get gaming to make your daughter happy

This past Family Day weekend inspired a whole list of activity possibilities in our house: should we go to the CN Tower? Bake cookies? Go out for breakfast? Hit the zoo?

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This past Family Day weekend inspired a whole list of activity possibilities in our house: should we go to the CN Tower? Bake cookies? Go out for breakfast? Hit the zoo?

While we settled on an assortment of events that kept our four-day break busy, yet thankfully relaxed, including our usual swim, dance and sport lessons, and then modelling clay, taking in Gnomeo & Juliet at the theatre, indoor playground run arounds, games of Uno, craft time and more (phew!), I suggested  we try something we hadn’t done in awhile. Fire up our Wii.

Our family game system tends to go unloved for periods of time around here—in the blur of our busy days, we almost seem to forget it’s there. But the suggestion barely spilled out of my mouth when my 6-year-old daughter squealed yes! Games were decided on and before we knew it, we’d burned up two hours of Wii skydiving, bowling, running, trampolining, snowball throwing and more.

Now I’ll be honest—part of the suggestion came after seeing this interesting study involving girls playing video games. And while the study examined girls a little older than mine—these ones were aged 11 to 17 years—it grabbed my interest when it noted that girls who play age-appropriate videogames with their families feel more connected with them and have better mental health. The study, done through Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, followed 287 families in total.   

Part of the reason for these positive effects, as this researcher notes, is likely the face time the girls got by spending time with their parents playing things like Rock and Roll All Night on Guitar Hero—because any positive time you get to spend with your kids is a good thing, right? And no need to start playing video games if you don’t already, the researchers also noted, because what counts is focused time together rather than the actual activity you’re doing.  

And I have to say despite our frustration in figuring out unplayed games (do you hold the controller like this? like this?) and keeping a controller out of my nap-skipping, three-year-old son’s mouth (OK, so much for the age-appropriate game for him?), the two hours of us all jammed in together in our living room playing as a team did fly by. Our Uno games never last that long that’s for sure. In fact, it’s rare our kids stay focused on any activity longer than ½ hour I think. But in the end, it was a lovely bonding moment for all four of us, who between work, daycare, play dates, lessons, sleeping and eating, crave spending more time as a foursome.

And while I won’t certainly be turning to video games to feed that craving, it was a good reminder for me about the transformative power of spending time altogether as a family.   

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