According to a new study by Xbox 360 manufacturers Microsoft, 61 per cent of parents consider video games a "great social experience".

The results of the second annual "Play Smart, Play Safe" survey, which monitors parents and children's attitudes towards digital entertainment, revealed that 52 per cent of the parents surveyed feel that games bring families together, and that, controversially, 64 per cent allow their children to play video games which have a higher age rating than they should be allowed.

Equally surprising is children's own desire for greater regulation of the games they play. 69 per cent of children want their parents to be more involved in checking the games they play are appropriate, and almost half state that their parents are not vigilant enough and do so "never" or "not enough". As such, 73 per cent of young games players would turn to a friend as their first port of call for guidance on suitable gaming, in contrast to 23 per cent who would turn to a parent.

The findings are being lauded by Microsoft as part of sea change in society's attitudes to videogaming, with the study referencing a recent report from the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee which claimed video games have a "broadly beneficial effect on the mental development of children".