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ASU studies how video games can strengthen families

July 25, 2013

A recent article by Phoenix Business Journal's Hayley Ringle featured research by two Arizona State University professors that explores how video games children play can be a way to connect families, rather than create tension.

Often, parents view time spent on video games as something they have to manage and control, rather than as an opportunity for them to strengthen relationships with their children, said Elisabeth Hayes, ASU’s Delbert & Jewell Lewis Chair in Reading & Literacy and professor in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the Center for Games & Impact.

“There is a lot of interest in understanding why video games engage children to the extent they do,” said Hayes, who teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on games and their impact. “A lot of scholars are realizing games have complex problem-solving skills, and give children skills in designing, eye-hand coordination and spatial reasoning. Part of our goal is to help parents understand that aspect of gaming and learn to engage in productive conversations with the games.”

The Play2Connect study, developed over the past year, has Hayes teaming up with Sinem Siyahhan, an ASU assistant research professor in the Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. The researchers conducted focus groups at ASU Preparatory Academy campuses across the Valley to find out how parents view video game play with their children.

“Video game play becomes a point of conversation, not a point of conflict,” said Siyahhan. “On the flip side, it’s nice for the child to be able to teach his or her parents about gaming. Our research is finding that sharing this experience cultivates family bonding, learning and well-being.”

The video game research is inspiring an intergenerational gaming night hosted by ASU’s Center for Games & Impact, July 31, at the Phoenix Art Museum. During the event, titled “Under 21 – Intergenerational Game Play,” children ages 10-14 and their parents will explore connections between video games and art. Two hour-long sessions are being offered, one at 5 and another at 6:30 p.m. Advance registration is required:

“Parents need guidance and support on how to talk with their children about video games,” Hayes said. “Fathers don’t quite get their daughters’ interests and moms don’t get why their sons like shooting games. We want to build bridges across gender divides.”

Article source: Phoenix Business Journal

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