Smartphone Video Games Promote Family Bonding

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Angry Birds app

Parents who play smartphone video games such as "Angry Birds" and "Bejeweled Blitz" with their kids report that gaming has increased the quality of bonding within the family, a new study suggests.

A study conducted by video game maker PopCap and Goldsmiths, University of London, found that 1 in 3 parents who play video games with their kids said it’s brought them closer to their loved ones.

The study — which examined an online survey of 3,250 parents and grandparents with children and grandchildren under the age of 16 in the United Kingdom — looked at the role of "casual games," including simple puzzle or strategy games, and how it’s helped them relate to youth. PopCap said the margin of error is unknown.

One-third of respondents said they play video games with their children every day, and 80 percent of this group described it as a "quality time" activity within their family.

The study also revealed that the growth in casual smartphone games has helped kids as young as 2 becoming proficient in the use of smartphones and other tablet devices.

In fact, 1 in 5 parents (22 percent) said that playing computer games has helped their children develop a better understanding of technology. In addition, a quarter of parents (27 percent) reported that their children borrow their smartphone every day to play games.

Debunking the myth that playing video games comes at the cost of healthier activities, the study also noted that three-quarters of parents said their computer game-playing kids also exercise regularly and eat healthful foods.

A third of parents believe that their children are able to concentrate better, thanks to playing casual games, while 53 percent believe that their children have improved problem-solving skills, also because of playing casual games.

"The fact that both parents and grandparents are using games to connect with their children and grandchildren, and quite successfully, suggests that video games can improve social skills and make a key contribution to both effective parenting and child development," said Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, of the department of psychology at Goldsmiths.

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