Video games may have been given a bad rep in the past, but new research is showing the incredibly important skills that digital worlds can teach your children.
Research has shown numerous positive sides of video games, including improved health, reduced stress, and increased social activity. Video games improve coordination and test cognitive abilities, as well as improve decision-making skills, creativity, and technology acclimation. Games like World of Warcraft have been found to strengthen skills, knowledge, and abilities that can help people land jobs in the working world. Augmented reality games have also been shown to increase physical activity and improve health in children who are obese.
It's simply about knowing the limits. How much should screen time be limited? When should video game sessions be encouraged? And, rather than discouraging children, should parents be encouraging themselves to join in?
We've gathered the statistics to help you make the best decisions for your family.
Closer to home, video games have even taken over family game nights, providing an opportunity for families to spend time together. So how does this work? Are gamer parents more likely to jump in as player two, and what type of games are families most likely to bond over? We surveyed over 700 parents about how they make family time through video games their children's gaming habits, how often they joined in, and their perceptions of the possible benefits. Keep reading to see what they had to say.
More Than Half of Parents Game With Their Kids at Least Once a Week
In 2018, video game revenue reached a new high, bringing in a record $43.8 billion – that's an 18% jump from the year prior. While the majority of gamers tend to be teens (90% of children between the ages of 13 and 17 reported playing video games in a 2018 study), a significant number of adults also play video games at least sometimes. However, when it came to playing with their children, 52% of parents said they only did so weekly, while just 11% said they play daily. Not only did gamer parents report spending the most time playing with their kids, but also gamer moms spent the most time of all, clocking in an average of 4.5 hours each week.
The low percentage of daily gaming may be a good thing, though. The parent-child bond is strengthened through daily acts, many of which don't involve screen time. In fact, psychologists recommend shutting off the games and finding other activities to bond over – even if video games seem to be the only thing your child wants to do. Physical touch, imaginative play, and a shared laugh do wonders for family connection.
But when a child (or parent) shows a high interest in gaming, it can be an additional opportunity for quality time. However, where gaming falls on the list of bonding activities depends on gaming interest, the child's grade level, and even their parents' age.
Children in pre-K were the least likely to be very or extremely interested in video games, while interest peaked for middle schoolers. On the other hand, interest in video games decreased significantly as the age of parents increased. While 57% of parents in their 20s were very or extremely interested in video games, 55% of those in their 30s and just 36% of those in their 40s or older said the same. However, across both children and parents, regardless of age, boys and fathers were more likely than their female counterparts to express great interest.
Video Games Can Strengthen Child-Parent Relationships
Deciding to join in on game time can be challenging for parents. After all, parents are supposed to be limiting screen time, not encouraging it, right? Some research has shown otherwise. While limiting screen time is, no doubt, beneficial for development, letting children game on their own during their allotted time is a missed opportunity for bonding and quality time.
For parents taking advantage of this opportunity, 35% believed video games very much or extremely strengthened their relationship with their children. On top of gamer parents holding this belief more than non-gamer parents, parents of elementary school-aged children were also the most likely to report a strengthened relationship with their children.
Reaping the rewards of quality game time doesn't necessarily require a parent to actively play with their children, though. The majority of parents (74%) said they watched their children play, while 3 in 5 played video games with their children in person. Gamer parents even flipped the script – 66% said their child watches them play video games, while only 25% of non-gamer parents reported the same. On a similar note, gamer parents were also significantly more likely to watch video game-related content, play video games online, and attend gaming-related events with their children.
Parents and Children Most Play Mobile and Tablet Games Together
In the world of gaming, there are some consoles and titles that are arguably better than others. But the superiority doesn't rest only on gameplay. In fact, some popular games are educational, while other genres are more likely to improve well-being and enhance mental acuity.
Mobile games, specifically, are known to improve mood, train the brain, and build social circles – and were also the most common way in which parents played with their children. One-third of parents also said they gamed with their children on a computer, while 32% did so on a PlayStation 4.
Although the Nintendo Switch did not make the top three gaming platforms, parents who played with their children on the console were the most likely to say video games strengthened their relationship. This likely stems from Nintendo games and consoles made with children and families in mind. Not only does the company market toward these populations, but also Nintendo's games are among the best for multiplayer mode.
However, across all consoles, parents bonded with their boys the most over sports-related video games, while they were the most likely to bond with girls over augmented reality games, such as Pokemon Go. But both genders gravitated toward two of the most popular games: Minecraft and Roblox. While Fortnite dominated the top three favorite video games for boys, Minecraft and Roblox followed and even made the top two spots for girls.
Gamer Parents Are More Likely to Perceive Video Games as Beneficial
Video games have long been a scapegoat for issues like violence and developmental issues, but an overwhelming amount of research supports the immersion of children in the digital world. Science seems to have changed the minds of worried parents, with the majority finding video games to be beneficial in at least one way. Sixty-one percent of parents said video games improve coordination, while at least 55% said the same of cognitive ability, decision-making, creativity, and technology acclimation. Overall, gamer parents perceived more benefits than their non-gamer counterparts. The only benefit non-gamer parents were more likely to identify was that video games offered a momentary distraction.
Gamer parents were also significantly more likely to believe video games improved their child's chances of working in a tech-related career and improved their physical fitness. And according to research, they're right. Video games like World of Warcraft have been found to strengthen skills, knowledge, and abilities that can help people land jobs in the working world, while other games have been shown to increase physical activity and improve health in children who are obese.
Augmented reality games, in particular, incentivize children and adults to go outside and stay active. The most popular example, Pokemon Go, became a worldwide phenomenon with 45 million active users at its peak in 2016. According to a study published the same year, Pokemon Go led to a significant increase in physical activity among active users, increasing their activity level by as much as 25% or 1,473 steps a day.
Even though video games can help children and parents stay active, it's important to enjoy time outside without devices. This device-free time can promote social skills, cognitive development, improve attention span, and much more.
Over Half of Parents Expected to Gift Their Children Video Games This Holiday Season
If you've ever caught a glimpse at your child's holiday wish list, you're likely to find an assortment of video game-related items. In fact, 55% of parents said they plan to purchase video games this holiday season, while 27% and 26% planned to gift video game accessories or gift cards, respectively. But single-player games don't have to be the only option for parents this year. This holiday may be a great time to shop for a game the whole family can participate in.
Considering parents anticipated spending an average of $75 on video game-related gifts (and even more if they were gamers), picking the right games is crucial. Some games even come with in-game purchases that have sparked debate all over the world. Loot boxes pop up in numerous games, and without proper parental controls, children can easily rack up a bill for the sake of new digital gear or skills to customize their avatars. But if parents keep this in mind when shopping for the perfect gift, they can save themselves money in the long run.
Explore the Power of Play
Video games have a way of taking players to a whole new world – a world in which their coordination is challenged, their cognitive abilities are tested, their creativity is ignited, and their decision-making abilities must be quick. While some people blame video games for some of society's uglier sides, the benefits of video games seem to outweigh some risks. Children who game not only receive a boost in their mental, emotional, and physical well-being, but also they can bond closer to their parents who join in on their virtual adventures.
But if your gaming skills are no match for your child's, sitting back and watching them dominate the digital world can strengthen your relationship just as much. You can even move the fun outside – take advantage of augmented reality, or let your child's imagination run wild with traditional play. Whichever way you decide to game with your children, Super Heroic supports your play. From superpowered sneakers to every layer of apparel, our products are built for play and designed with kids in mind. To help spread the power of play and learn more, visit us online today.
We conducted a survey of 733 Americans who had children between the ages of 3 and 17 who were at least slightly interested in video games and currently lived with them in their household. Respondents then answered questions about how they believed video games influence their relationship with their children.
Forty-six percent of our respondents identified as male, 54% identified as female, and less than 1% identified as a gender not listed on our survey. Respondents ranged in age from 19 to 60 with a mean of 36 and a standard deviation of 8. Twelve percent of respondents were parents of children in Pre-K, 50% of a child in elementary school, 20% in middle school, and 17% in high school.
Gamer and non-gamer parents were defined as individuals who were very or extremely interested in video games.
Video game genres were limited to results with 20 or more responses. The most popular genre parents and their children bonded over was calculated as the genre with the highest percentage above the mean and reflects the genre each demographic was more likely to bond over compared to other demographics.It is possible that with more respondents from each demographic, we may have been able to gain better insight into their gaming preferences. The data we are presenting rely on self-reporting and, as such, are susceptible to exaggeration or selective memory.
Statistical testing was not performed on the results, and the claims listed above are based on means alone and are presented for informational purposes.
Fair Use Statement
Whether you're aged 5 or 50, being a kid is defined by your imagination, not your birthdate. If you know someone who dives into the digital world uninhibited, they may be interested in our findings. The content and graphics found here are available for noncommercial reuse, so feel free to share this project with your friends, family, or followers. All we ask is that you include a link to this page so that your readers can get all the information and contributors receive proper credit.