The variety of games on offer alone is staggering, with simple, colourful beginner games for very young children through to complex multi-player video games for older age groups. And while those under 18 make up less than 25 per cent of active gamers, they are getting younger, with 17 per cent of 3 to 5-year-olds now playing games online.
Positives to Gaming
- encourage problem-solving skills
- sharpen visual processing and enhance memory
- help young people develop multitasking and social skills (for example, teamwork)
- provide a sense of fulfilment and achievement.
Risks to Gaming
- Playing games with strangers, which may increase the risk of grooming or inappropriate contact.
- Coming across players who deliberately seek to bully other players, and/or who use abusive, offensive language.
- Regular exposure to violent or extremely graphic content, which may be distressing or upsetting, particularly to underage players – this can create mental health and well-being issues or exacerbate existing ones.
- Lots of games now have the option to link to a credit/debit card or a PayPal account, so players can buy in-game items/features (for example loot boxes, additional levels, etc.). If children sign up to these extras, even with the parent or carer’s consent, it can be very expensive.
- Purchasing third-party software (such as Discord) to enable voice chat and messaging for games that do not contain those features, meaning that children and young people may be chatting with others, even if the game doesn’t include this feature.
More resources and information about online gaming