Digital gaming is virtually universal and very social among US teens, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found in a study it released today. “Fully 97% of teens [99% of boys and 94% of girls] ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games,” Pew reports. As for the social aspect of digital gaming, 65% of teens play with other people in the room; 27% with people online; and 82% play games alone, but 71% of those also play with other people. “The gaming experience is rich and varied, with a significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement,” Pew says in its press release.
In other key findings, 80% play five or more types of games and 40% eight or more (e.g., racing, action, shooter, rhythm, puzzles). The respondents’ top 5 games were, respectively, Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution. “The average rating for teens’ favorite games is just above a Teen rating,” and nearly “a third of teens play games that are listed as appropriate only for people older than they are,” but the average game rating for all the teens surveyed was an E10+ rating.” Ninety percent of parents say they always or sometimes know what games their kids play. As for civic engagement, this was an interesting observation by the authors: “Teens who take part in social interaction related to the game, such as commenting on websites or contributing to discussion boards, are more engaged civically and politically.” “Computer games drive social ties” was the BBC’s headline and “Can games make your kid a better citizen?” was MSNBC’s.