YOUNG girls should be encouraged to play video games, a leading education expert has claimed.
Headmistress Helen Wright believes boys are gaining an “unfair advantage” as they typically gravitate towards computers, Playstations and Xboxes.
Despite ongoing concern about youngsters obsessively playing violent computer games, Dr Wright argues that both boys and girls enjoy numerous learning benefits.
She is urging parents and teachers to spur young girls towards gaming – and even encourage them to design their own.
The education expert, who is based in Australia and has taught in the UK, said: “When we complain about students staying up all night playing Call of Duty or the latest equivalent ultraviolet videogame, it is adolescent boys hunched over screens that we have in mind.
“Yet, just as all video games are not violent shoot-’em-ups, all gamers are not male.
“Girls do game, increasingly so. And rather than adding girls’ gaming to our behaviour hit list to stamp it out, we should do the opposite.”
Writing in an education magazine, she added: “Girls should be gamers for many reasons, but mostly because, if they don’t game they don’t get the numerous learning benefits.”
She describes games such as Minecraft, Farmville and Lego Star Wars as “fantastic and engaging”, but urges families to avoid “morally-dubious” titles such as Grand Theft Auto.
“In cyberspace, so much more is technologically possible than in real life, which means that online games have a significant capacity to bring the awe and wonder to the classroom that teachers crave for their students,” Dr Wright added.
But she points out there are numerous barriers for girls gaining access to the gaming scene.
She said: “Because online games have been male territory in the past, and because these stereotypes prevail, it is harder for girls to feel encouraged to start gaming.
“It is no wonder that, like science, maths, engineering and technology in general, computer gaming has struggled to shake off its outdated ‘boys club’ reputation.
“This is why we shouldn’t just encourage girls to play games; we need girls to design games too.
“Teachers can make a huge difference…set up coding clubs just for girls, so that they get a fair go at making up lost ground.
“Make sure that boys in primary schools don’t hog the Raspberry Pi or the classroom iPads.”
Tomb Raider, a popular video game for teenagers, recently experienced a change in a bid to attract more female players.
The main character, Lara Croft, underwent a makeover in which her trousers were made longer and her bust was reduced to a more realistic size.
Recent studies show that online gamers demonstrated a better attention span and were quicker at making accurate decisions than their non-gaming peers.
They also demonstrate that games involving a lot of fast motion improve a player’s ability to multitask in the real world.