Teens, Video Games, and Civics
Teens’ gaming experiences are diverse and include significant social interaction and civic engagement
September 16, 2008
Amanda Lenhart, Sr. Research Specialist, Pew Internet Project Joseph Kahne, Dean, School of Education, Mills College & Director, Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) Ellen Middaugh, Sr. Research Associate, CERG Alexandra Rankin Macgill,Project Manager, Pew Internet Project Chris Evans, Sr. Program Associate, CERG Jessica Vitak, Research Intern, Pew Internet Project
PEW INTERNET & AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT 1615 L ST., NW – SUITE 700 WASHINGTON, D.C. 20036
Summary of Findings
Video games provide a diverse set of experiences and related activities and are part of the lives of almost allteens in America. To date, most video game research has focused on how games impact academic and social outcomes (particularly aggression). There has also been some exploration of the relationship between games and civic outcomes, but as of yet there has been no large-scale quantitative research. This survey provides the first nationally representative study of teen video game play and of teen videogaming and civic engagement. The survey looks at which teens are playing games, the games and equipment they are using, the social context of their play, and the role of parents and parental monitoring. Though arguments have been made about the civic potential of video gaming, this is the first large-scale study to examine the relationship between specific gaming experiences and teens’ civicactivities and commitments.
Almost all teens play games.
Video gaming is pervasive in the lives of American teens—young teens and older teens, girls and boys, and teens from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Opportunities for gaming are everywhere, and teens are playing video games frequently. When asked, half of all teens reported playing a video game “yesterday.” Those who play daily typicallyplay for an hour or more. Fully 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games. Additionally: 50% of teens played games “yesterday.” 86% of teens play on a console like the Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii. 73% play games on a desktop or a laptop computer. 60% use a portable gaming device like a Sony PlayStation Portable, a Nintendo DS, or a Game Boy. 48% use a cell phone orhandheld organizer to play games.
Gender and age are key factors in describing teens’ video gaming.
Fully 99% of boys and 94% of girls play video games. Younger teen boys are the most
This Pew Internet Project report is based on the findings of a national representative random digit dial telephone survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between November 1, 2007, and February 5,2008, among a sample of 1102 teens ages 12-17 and a parent or guardian. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is +/- 3%. For results based teens who game (n=1064), the margin of sampling error is +/- 3%. . Pew Internet & American Life Project, 1615 L St., NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036 202-415-4500http://www.pewinternet.org
Summary of Findings
likely to play games, followed by younger girls and older boys. Older girls are the least “enthusiastic” players of video games, though more than half of them play. Some 65% of daily gamers are male; 35% are female.
Youth play many different kinds of video games.
Most teens do not limit themselves to just a few game genres, instead choosingto play many different types of games. Daily gamers are more likely to play a wider range of game genres than non-daily gamers. 80% of teens play five or more different game genres, and 40% play eight or more types of games. 55% of daily gamers play eight or more types of games; just 33% of less frequent gamers do so. Girls play an average of 6 different game genres; boys average 8 different...
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