A few days ago the Pew Internet & American Life Project released the results of a national survey of U.S. teens (survey sample: 1,102 youth ages 12-17) and video games.
The study, a project of the Pew Research Center and the MacArthur Foundation, shatters many of the previously held beliefs that video game obsessed teens lead socially isolated lives devoid of interaction with other people.
In fact, the Pew study found that "virtually all American teens play computer, console, or cell phone games and that the gaming experience is rich and varied, with a significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement."
Among the key findings:
Game playing is universal, with almost all teens playing games and at least half playing games on a given day.
- 97% of American teens ages 12-17 play some kind of video game.
- 99% of boys say they are gamers and 94% of girls report that they play games.
Game playing experiences are diverse, with the most popular games falling into the racing, puzzle, sports, action and adventure categories.
- A typical teen plays at least five different categories of games and 40% of them play eight or more different game types.
- While some teens play violent video games, those who play violent games generally also play non-violent games.
Game playing is social, with most teens playing games with others at least some of the time.
- 76% of gaming teens play games with others at least some of the time.
- 82% play games alone at least occasionally, though 71% of this group also plays games with others.
- 65% of gaming teens play with others in the same room.
Game playing can incorporate many aspects of civic and political life.
- 76% of youth report helping others while gaming.
- 44% report playing games where they learn about a problem in society.
Game playing sometimes involves exposure to mature content, with almost a third of teens playing games that are listed as appropriate only for people older than they are.
- 32% of youth 12-16 in this sample play games that are listed as appropriate only for people older than they are.
- 32% of gaming teens report that at least one of their favorite games is rated Mature or Adults Only.
- 12-14 year old's are equally as likely to play Mature and Adults Only rated games as their 15-17 year old counterparts (source).