While boys spend more than two and a half times as much time playing video games as girls, the gaming industry reports that 46% of players worldwide are female (Fnatic, 2022). And it turns out that the benefits to girls who game are worth talking about!
Since girls are more likely to be closer friends IRL (“in real life”) with their gaming friends, the activity increases their social connections, with the opposite observed in boys.
Kids in general are aware of the negative gender-related “girl gamer,” insults, but research shows that this has little impact on girl gamers performance or attitudes. Since an awareness of negative stereotypes often lowers performance and self-esteem – especially those that are gender-related, girl gamers are increasing their resilience against gender stereotypes!
Turns out gaming is especially good for female brain development. Elementary-age girl gamers manage their ‘visual attentional resources’ better than girls who start to play after age 10 — and the performance gap in that area with boys disappears, because of gaming. Also, gender gaps in spatial attention and mental rotation skills disappear after as little as 10 hours of training on action video games!
So, with this information at hand, Savvy Cyber Kids says don’t discourage a girl (or anyone!) from gaming! Girls don’t seem to get ‘addicted’ to gaming the same way that boys do. But do take the time to talk about all negative gender-based interactions they have online and use it for fodder for discussing parallel challenges in the real world. Remember, a small investment of time in gaming can offer a large and lasting neurological impact for girls. And most impactfully, girls who game become the girls who make the games!
- Ask your child what their favorite game is and why? Ask them if they could invent any video game, what would it be about?
- Ask about interactions with people that have a different gender orientation while gaming. Have they observed or participated in behaviors that could make a girl uncomfortable playing with them? Have they observed or participated in making a girl gamer feel welcome?
- Take a look at your child’s and their friend’s avatars. Talk about why they choose to make them look this way.
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