Pew Internet have conducted a first of its kind study, surveying over 1000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 about their gaming habits. Ever since we began fending of that alien invasion, there has been controversy about whether video games are good or bad. That controversy has fueled debate, a debate focused on the impact of video games on the world’s youth.
Although Pew Internet’s survey doesn’t attempt to solve global issues (all participants are American residents), some interesting results do stem – many of which actually paint gaming as having diverse, positive effects on teens.
Traditionally, the image of a gamer is that of a loner who prefers spending his or her time playing video games over spending time with friends. Our survey refutes this stereotype, revealing that the most avid, frequent gamers are just as communicative and socially engaged as less-active gamers.
Even when they are not playing games with others, teens talk and engage with others about games—by posting comments on discussion boards and websites or by writing reviews and “walk-throughs” that assist newcomers to a particular game by showing them how to play the game.
But apparently video games are more than just a great social tool, they can give teens a hands on education on political and ethical issues.
Those playing games often simulate civic action, help or guide other players, participate in guilds or other groups associated with the game, learn about social issues, and grapple with ethical issues.
A viable source with viable data indicating that video games aren’t the devil – it’s certainly refreshing to see, but despite almost globally positive feedback from the survey, outspoken game industry critic National Institute on Media and the Family responded with the standard copy/paste that’s all too familiar.
Today’s study by Pew continues to highlight the need for parents to be vigilant regarding their child’s video gaming habits. Games like Haloand Grand Theft Auto will remain popular with teens, despite retailers and the ESRB’s best attempts to keep M-rated games out of kids’ hands.
It’s odd that GTA has been singled out yet again, especially considering the survey found that (marginally) more teens play Tetris than any iteration of Grand Theft Auto.
The full report can be viewed in PDF form here