Are children forced into Mario Land?

The behaviour of parents can have a significant effect on the video game playing habits of their children. This is the finding of new research funded by the National Science Foundation, which showed kids who believe their mother and father to be poor monitors often spend longer indulging in this pastime.

Carried out by investigators at Michigan State University, which has a history stretching back more than 150 years, the study discovered more youngsters view the actions of their mums and dads as negative - such as persistent 'nagging' - and therefore take to video gaming on a more regular basis.

Linda Jackson, Professor of Psychology, questioned: "Does a parent's negative interactions with their child drive the child into the world of videogames, perhaps to escape the parent's negativity?"

Alternatively, Professor Jackson queried whether it was as a result of experiencing too much in the way of these consoles that results in a child viewing his or her mother and father in such a way.

Dr Kairen Cullen, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Questions about the direction of influence between children's videogame playing and styles of parenting brings to mind the chicken and egg analogy.

"In my clinical experience, the behaviour of child and parent are heavily inter-connected. It is therefore likely that negative parenting will have an effect on the child's comfort and pleasure seeking behaviours, [such as] game playing.

"It is also likely that the more emotionally detached the child becomes as a result of excessive game playing, the more negative the parenting behaviour will be.

"For this reason, children's and parent's leisure choices need to be thought about carefully and shared activities are a good idea - even better if they are real and active rather than vicarious and sedentary."