A new study commissioned by PopCap Games has shown that parents of children aged 14 or older are significantly more permissive with videogames for boys than for girls.
While 48 percent of the survey respondents in the category don’t allow their children or grandchildren to play “hardcore” games, 60 percent forbid girls from playing them, compared to only 37 percent of boys. According to psychologist Dr. Carl Arinoldo, the number is simply a reflection of long-established gender roles. “Overall, boys do tend to be more active and aggressive than girls, and their choices for play activities are no different,” he said. “It is generally considered more acceptable for boys to engage in more action-oriented and even somewhat violent activities (such as contact sports) than it is for girls.”
“In addition, parents often tend to be somewhat more protective of their daughters in what they do than they are of their sons, allowing for a bit more independence and leeway for the boys,” he continued. “This is somewhat outdated thinking, but obviously a perspective shared by many parents even today. But most experts agree that exposing children and adolescents to graphically explicit content of a sexual or extremely violent nature should be avoided, and this applies to both genders.”
Casual videogames were much more acceptable to most parents and grandparents, with the vast majority not only allowing young children to play the games, but often playing with them. Parents report numerous benefits to casual gaming among young children, including improvements to manual dexterity, educational benefits and boosts in confidence, while among kids ten and older, stress relief is reported as the greatest single benefit.
“While the cognitive benefits of playing casual computer games (eg. concentration, focusing, decision-making, etc.) are present in some form for children of all ages, the stress-management benefits understandably become more significant as a child ages toward and through adolescence,” Arinoldo said. “From school pressures to puberty, tweens and teens certainly experience more stress, on average, than younger children. Playing casual computer games can be a good choice for parents to encourage as part of their children’s stress-management strategies.”