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Young boy sitting next to his father, both holding video game cotnrollers, happily playing a video game

What do parents need to know about video games?

Video games are a popular form of entertainment for youth, and there are many different ways to play, including:

  • Console gaming, such as the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch
  • Handheld gaming, such as the Nintendo 3DS
  • PC gaming, played on a personal computer, either as a downloaded game or through a service like Steam
  • Mobile gaming, such as those played on a smartphone or tablet
  • Virtual Reality (VR) gaming, including the HTC Vine and Oculus Rift
  • Augmented Reality (AR) gaming, including Pokémon GO

Regardless of the platform, many games have an online component, in which the game is played partially or entirely online against other players. There are many different types of video game genres, but a few common ones include:

  • First-person shooters (Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty)
  • Battle royale games (Fortnite, PUBG)
  • Role-playing games (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Path of Exile)
  • A variety of other massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) (Dota 2, Civilization VI)

Every game has a rating set by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), but it is always best to read reviews of a game, and watch your child or teen play, in order to get a better understanding of the content. Many gamers also video broadcast their gameplay to a public audience (known as livestreaming) using online services like YouTube or Twitch, and your teen may be interested in doing the same. Before allowing your teen to livestream their own gameplay, learn about the risks and benefits involved. Esports, in which professional gamers compete in tournaments, is another way in which teens play and view games.

Video game “addiction” has also become popular recently, with both the World Health Organization and the American Psychological Association identifying gaming disorder as a behavioral health concern. If you are concerned that your child or teen may be struggling with their sleep, grades, or other health-related issues as a result of their gaming, see our Problematic Interactive Media Use resource for more information.

Who plays video games?

According to two recent studies about young children and tweens and teens:

  • 66% of tweens aged 8 to 12 play video games for an average of 2 hours per day
  • 56% of teens ages 13 to 17 play video games for an average of 2.5 hours per day
  • Boys typically play video games more often than girls
  • Over 80% of both tweens and teens have a gaming console
  • Young children aged 2 to 4 play for 21 minutes per day, and those aged 5 to 8 play for 42 minutes per day

Why are video games so popular?

Research shows that video games are popular, but why do kids enjoy these games so much? Motivations behind video game playing vary depending on the child or teen, but research shows that video games allow youth to escape their problems; to try on different personalities; to socialize; and to engage in challenging and reward-based experiences.

Where can I learn more about video gaming?

Read advice about video games from The Mediatrician:

Still have questions? Ask the Mediatrician!

 

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