Report Claims Video Games Are Good For Children

Dennis Faas's picture

A study of teenage leisure habits says video games, rather than inciting violence actually promotes social interaction. The study also found that almost as many girls play games as boys.

Perhaps the most surprising finding in the survey, carried out by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, was that 65% of children who play video games do so with other people in the room. A reported 90% of parents 'often' play along with their children. (Source:

And while Halo 3 and Madden NFL were among the most popular games, the leader was Guitar Hero, a game that appears particularly suitable for group play. Indeed, the rise of games that don't involve violence or sports is credited for the fact that 95% of girls now play games, just short of the 99% figure for boys.

Overall, violence-based games don't seem that popular. Motor-racing style games (from NASCAR simulators to the cartoonish Mario Kart) are the most popular genre, with 74% playing regularly, with puzzle and sports the next most popular. Games featuring fighting, shooting or horror are all much less popular and the majority of teens don't play such games.

The survey also looked at behaviour in multi-player games such as those played over the Internet. While most children had encountered other players being "mean and overly aggressive", and around half had seen "hateful, racist or sexist" behaviour, three-quarters said other players had put a stop to such behaviour. Meanwhile 85% said other players had been generous or helpful. (Source: PDF file link)

Unlike other studies that have concentrated on the effects of violence, this focused squarely on gameplay. It turns out teens who play games with other children (in person) are more likely to have an interest in politics and raise money for charity than those who play alone or with online players.

The figures are even higher for children who play certain types of 'civic' games (such as Sim City) and those who participate in online message boards to discuss games. Of course, it's worth remembering this may not be a straight cause and effect: it could be that socially-minded children are more likely to play with others in the first place.

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