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ESA Finds Parents Believe Games Are Positive for Children

Posted on Thursday, April 24 @ 13:30:00 PST by

A new study titled "2014 Sales, Demographic, and Usage Date: Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry" from the video game business lobby Entertainment Software Association has found that most parents believe video games play a positive role in a child's life.

The study states that 59% of Americans play video games while the "average US household owns at least one dedicated game console, PC, or smartphone," though I would balk at the suggestion that an iOS or Android device is a "dedicated game console" or that consumers see those devices as such.

These days, the average video game player is 31 years old with 52% of gamers identifying as male and 48% as female. More interestingly, "the number of female gamers age 50 and older increased by 32% from 2012 to 2013."

While this study was commissioned by the video game industry's biggest lobbying firm, it doesn't sugar coat the data like other anti-game data scrubs have in the past. For example, 44% of people play games on smartphones while 33% play on other wireless devices.

What other wireless devices? Is there a sickening addiction to Nokia Brick Snake in America?

The heavy hitting statistics come in the study of parents, children, and whether they monitor gameplay or not. "87% of parents believe that the parental controls available in all new video game consoles are useful. Further, parents impose time usage limits on video games more than any other form of entertainment."

I do take issue with a few of these stats. The ESA says:
  • Over 70% of parents place time limits on movie, TV, Internet, and game usage, but what parent is going to admit to losing track of time or leaving the electronics to babysit kids while they unwind after an insane American work day?
  • Over 90% of parents "are present when games are purchased or rented" but I can tell you from experience that the only amount of "presence" my folks showed when I rented a game from Hollywood Video was looking at the cover before taking it to the register. They didn't really talk to me about the game I was playing or what it entailed, what I would be doing in the game, etc. I'm not saying all parents are like this, but there's probably still a healthy level of self-representing bias to wade through in this study.
  • "95% of parents pay attention to the content of the games their children play" but what does that mean? What does it mean to pay attention to a hyper-violent, addicting, multiplayer game where you kill thousands and die thousands of times? "Oh haha, it's just a game" might be the standard response but then that kid goes off viewing real war as a game too. Paying attention simply isn't enough.
  • Finally "56% of parents say video games are a positive part of their child's life" which I could see being valid given that gaming does a lot for self-esteem, motor skills, reading, and more.
The statistic I'm really interested in growing? "42% of parents whose children are gamers play computer and video games with their children at least weekly."

[Full Report PDF]

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