1980s: Intellivision, Sega Master System, Nintendo Entertainment System
1990s: Sega Genesis, PS1
2000 – Present: PS2, Nintendo Wii
With the acquisition or purchase of each, I can still hear my mother lamenting about what a waste of time and money video games are. Ironically, she was telling my father the same thing as he sat next to me complaining that his controller was sticking. (There was no better Burger Time player on Intellivision than Pops).
Some of my earliest and fondest memories of my father are around the bonding we did around the warming glow of a terrible tube TV and game cartridges.
Present day, my wife and I bought a Wii primarily for that same bonding experience I enjoyed as a child – but this time with much more advanced and interactive communal games such as Rock Band and Mario Kart Wii.
Without a son of my own, I figured my gaming days were behind me. That is until my daughter, soon to be 3, discovered Mario. Yes, that Mario. She is infatuated by the Wii for myriad reasons including: 1. she thinks she is the one driving in Mario Kart (sometimes she is, other times it’s just me tearing up the course); 2. we’ve created most of our extended family in the form of Mii’s; 3. according to her, Mario may or may not live on our second floor.
What’s most important is that I treasure any opportunity we get to bond and spend time together. With daughter #2 on the way next month, I make it an extra point to find commonality with her.
I just never thought it would be video games; and I never thought that video games would actually be good for us. Sorry, Mom!
Earlier this year, the Journal of Adolescent Health, printed an article titled, “Game On. . . Girls: Associations Between co-playing Video Games and Adolescent Behavioral and Family Outcomes” based on a study done by Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life.
From the article’s abstract:
Purpose: Video game use has been associated with several behavioral and health outcomes for adolescents. The aim of the current study was to assess the relationship between parental co-play of video games and behavioral and family outcomes.
Method: Participants consisted of 287 adolescents and their parents who completed a number of video game-, behavioral-, and family-related questionnaires as part of a wider study. Most constructs included child, mother, and father reports.
Results: At the bivariate level, time spent playing video games was associated with several negative outcomes, including heightened internalizing and aggressive behavior and lowered prosocial behavior. However, co-playing video games with parents was associated with decreased levels of internalizing and aggressive behaviors, and heightened prosocial behavior for girls only. Co-playing video games was also marginally related to parent–child connectedness for girls, even after controlling for age-inappropriate games played with parents.
Conclusions: This is the first study to show positive associations for co-playing video games between girls and their parents.
As the study states, “Co-playing is arguably more active than co-viewing, as parents must actively take part in the video game play.”
Guys…This is almost too easy! Your wife wants you to help with the kids. You want to get your game on. Well, game on.
Obviously, she’s not ready to hop online with a headset and a bag of Cheetos and be your wingman in Call of Duty (the study did stress age appropriateness), but who knows? Maybe in 10 years she will be.
Around that time, as another study points out, my little girl may just be designing her own games. Back in February, Science Daily published an article stating that “Girls’ Interest in Computing Science Piqued by Making Video Games.”
Armed with all this academically-proven knowledge of how I can both strengthen the bond I have with my eldest and perhaps even expand her academic horizons, I approached a friend at Nintendo about putting together a little study of our own here at 30Nothings, and lucky for us (and you), he obliged.
Along with Brandon (father of a 13-month-old girl) and our good friend Jay Busbee from Devil Ball Golf, From the Marbles and JayBusbee.com (father of a 11-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy), Nintendo armed us with the following games:
- Donkey Kong Country Returns
- Mario Sports Mix
- Mario Kart Wii
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii
- Wii Party
Each week, Brandon, Jay and I will independently spend time with one game and our daughters, and each Friday we will create a post documenting how important it is to spend time with our kids, and how Nintendo Wii games can help be a part of that.
But we want you to be a part of the fun as well!
We will be giving away a copy of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Mario Kart Wii randomly to two of our lucky Facebook Fans – New Super Mario Bros. Wii on July 8 and Mario Kart Wii second on July 29. All you have to do is go Like us and upload a picture of you enjoying some gaming (preferably Wii) with your kid(s).
I’ll get us started…