Wii's Hidden Girl Power

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Although Peggy Orenstein is waging war on princesses, and Tiger Mom Amy Chua is purportedly canceling play dates, the Wall Street Journal's Rachel Emma Silverman may have found something to fill the void: video games.

According to Silverman, video games, often written off as something for boys, can have a major impact on girls' self-esteem.

The research found that girls ages 11 to 16 years old who played videogames with a parent behaved better, felt more connected to their families and had better mental health than girls who played with friends or on their own. The study, by researchers at Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, and published today in the Journal of Adolescent Health, examined 287 families with teens.

Although Silverman says researchers found it was the face-to-face time with parents that made the difference, it appears that video games offer more than the usual "eat dinner with your kids and they'll thrive," routine. The difference, researcher Sarah Coyne says is that unlike dinner which everyone needs to eat,  "videogames are kind of an adolescent thing. When a parent says I’m going to sit down and do what you’re going to do, that sends a different message entirely.”

Silverman said adding game time with the boys didn't offer any significant payoff, probably because the time was a "'drop in the bucket,' compared to the overall time they spend gaming."

One note of caution before reaching for Grand Theft Auto: it only works when the games are age-appropriate. Otherwise the games "may interfere with conversation or interaction that may lead to heightened levels of connection.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.