Boys love to play superhero games. Ask any young child who their favourite superhero is and they'll be quick to answer - Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, the Green Lantern, the Hulk...
This makes gift-giving easy. Every superhero now comes complete with comics, movies, TV shows, figurines, costumes, electronic games, puzzles, plates, cups and clothing.
It's always a bit of a struggle to make sure you child doesn't become too obsessed with their superhero of choice. We've all seen little boys dressed up as their favourite superhero while grocery shopping accompanied by resigned parents who probably wish they'd never encouraged their kids with their new-found passion in the first place.
So what, if anything, should we do? Stage an intervention? Lure them away with bug catchers, new bikes and water pistols? Even children without the licensed merchandise will use towels, sheets and homemade masks to assist them with their superhero play.
It seems that we can all relax. Superhero play can benefit our kids. Relieved? We are too. The University of California at Berkeley has confirmed that superheroes are good for children. Their study found that children who engaged in this sort of play developed better memories, problem-solving skills and ultimately better mental health.
I'm pretty sure the study wasn't sponsored by Marvel, the makers of Spiderman.
The researchers found pretend play is crucial and superhero play is the best kind.
Most experts agree that superhero play is healthy for kids. Here's why:
1. Superheroes make children feel empowered
When children think up elaborate superhero games they are usually the superheroes and invent 'baddies' to battle. In these games they have the power to correct wrongs, to protect the innocent and acting them out makes them feel like they have control.
2. Superheroes teach children to have a sense of responsibility
Superheroes are good. They fight bad people. This instills in our children a strong sense of responsibility and clearly demonstrates the difference between right and wrong. Superheroes frequently put their own lives in danger to protect others.
3. Superheroes spark our children's imaginations