Kids fighting? Playing video games together may help!

It’s not just a game of hide and seek or tag that builds friendships and teaches your kids to be more understanding. Researchers have now found that even playing video games in sync with other children could increase a child’s closeness with his peers. The study, involving eight-year-olds, reported that when these children played video games in sync together, they experienced a greater sense of similarity and closeness immediately after playing as compared with those who played the same game but not in a synchronous way. The latter group of children did not report the same increase in connection.

Lead author Tal-Chen Rabinowitch, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, tested 74 eight-year-old children in same-sex pairs. In the experiment, the kids had to sit side-by-side in front of a screen and were made to play an animated football (soccer) game. The balls bounced on both halves of the screen, and each child had to press a button whenever the ball hit the floor on their side of the screen.

For some of the pairs, the balls bounced in the same pattern. This meant that the children had to press the buttons at the same time. For the pairs in the other group, balls bounced out of sync so the children’s button-pressing was not coordinated with one another. Children in the synchronous group reported a greater sense of similarity and closeness.

According to the article, synchrony occurs when people interact together in time. It is a basic requirement for one-on-one or group activities such as playing music, dancing and rowing. Synchrony has been connected to improved teamwork in adults, hence making them work more efficiently and increasing productivity.

“Synchrony is like a glue that brings people together — it is a magical connector for people,” said Rabinowitch.

Published in the journal PLOS ONE, these results imply that time-based synchronized activities, such as playing music together, dance and sports, could be useful in bringing children together and helping them get along better.

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