Study Finds Benefits of Parents Playing Video Games with Kids

Father playing video games with his sonParents who play video games with their children may have a better understanding of how those games affect children, according to a study by researchers from the University of Oxford and Cardiff University published in PeerJ.

The effects of video games on children remains a contested topic. A 2015 American Psychological Association task force report asserted a link between violent video games and aggression. Some studies—including a 2015 study of 200 children—undermine this claim, finding no association between video games and violence. Video games may also affect children’s mental health. A 2016 study found a slight association between video game play and depression and conduct issues.

Should Parents Play Video Games with Kids?

The study involved three trials designed to assess attitudes toward video games. The first study polled 959 men and 1,019 women about their attitudes toward and experience with video games. Attitudes toward video games were more positive among those who played games frequently.

The second study assessed 483 men and 517 women on their attitudes toward video games, including their belief in inaccurate assertions about video games, such as the assumption that games cause mass shootings. That study determined older groups, as well as those with only limited game-play experience, were more likely to have negative views of video games and to endorse inaccurate assertions about games. They were also more likely to believe law should restrict game access.

A third study of 929 men and 987 women assessed experience with video games, but also asked about the participants’ status as parents. Researchers asked parents if they played video games with their children and how they believed video games affected their children.

Parents who played video games with their children were more likely to have a nuanced view of video game play, citing both benefits and drawbacks. Women reported less exposure to game play, either by themselves or with their children, and were more likely to hold negative beliefs about video game exposure. Overall, parents who regularly played games with their children were about three times as likely to have accurate beliefs about the effects of video gaming.

The study’s authors say their results point to the ways inexperience can contribute to bias in perceptions of gaming.

Video Game Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) still recommends no “screen time” in front of televisions or digital media for children under age 2. For older children, the organization no longer proposes a hard limit on screen time. Instead, it suggests parental involvement matters, parents should evaluate the content of the media their children consume, and children need limits to prevent technology from interfering with other activities. The AAP also points to the importance of other activities, such as outdoor time and reading, and encourages parents to establish “screen-free zones.”


  1. Media and children. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. Parents know best about effects of video games on children (2016, April 12). Retrieved from
  3. Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2016). How we see electronic games. PeerJ,4. doi:10.7717/peerj.1931
  4. Shapiro, J. (2015, September 30). The American Academy of Pediatrics just changed their guidelines on kids and screen time. Retrieved from

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  • Leave a Comment
  • Donald

    April 13th, 2016 at 11:40 AM

    It does tend to give my sons and I talking points when otherwise it could feel like we have nothing to say to each other.

  • Casey

    April 13th, 2016 at 4:52 PM

    Playing video games? Really not my thing but if it means spending more time with my kids and having something that we can find a connection through then I will learn to like it. Who knows? maybe I will actually become better at it than I think I am.

  • jess f

    April 14th, 2016 at 8:44 AM

    Honestly I think that you would see the same benefits from doing anything with your child. Reading, coloring, playing outside, playing video games, etc. Just spending time with your child is the most important thing.

  • Kevin

    April 14th, 2016 at 1:52 PM

    There will always be evidence out there that will support whichever side of the issue you are on. If you like playing then you can find studies that say this is the best thing since sliced bread. If you are not a gamer then you can find others that say that video games are nothing but evil.

    The fact is nothing is ever good when done to the extreme, but I think that no matter how you feel about this particular issue, it is always a good thing to find someway to have this connection with your child and take as much time doing that together as you can.

    They will only be a child once, and you only have so many years before spending time with you is the least of their concerns.

  • moses

    April 16th, 2016 at 3:09 PM

    I know that we want our children to learn to be independent, but my thoughts are to spend as much time with them while I can while they will still tolerate me being aorund. I know that there will come a time when they don’t want me or need me all that much anymore so I am willing to do what it takes to spend that quality time with them while they will continue to let me. And besides, the video games are fun

  • Penn

    April 18th, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    Family movie night has always worked pretty well for us.
    My kids are teenagers now and it is something that we still try to fit in at least once every few weeks.

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