The Familyandmedia research team recently conducted a
study on the effects of the use of new technologies by Italian teenagers.
One of the aspects that the researchers focused on most was the
relationship between young people and videogames.

The study was conducted in 2016 in three different cities (Bari, Castel
Gandolfo, and Rome) on panels of 16 youth ages 13 – 18. In total, 48 young
people participated in the research. The main goal of the investigation was
to obtain results not induced by the researchers through a playful participant observation method.

The purpose was to gather all the most common ways of using videogames and
the dangers of addiction. So the “hidden” questions aimed to investigate:
how they choose a videogame, what are the motivations to play, if they
prefer to play on their phones or on a computer/tv. And again, how many
hours they spend playing and at what point of the day, whether alone or in
company, if they have time limits imposed by their parents or if they
choose for themselves when it’s best to stop. Finally, what feelings or
disturbances they feel after having played, for example during the night.

In addition to mapping the habits of usage and consumption of children’s
video games through focus groups, a second specific objective of
this study was to identify in them the presence of the virtues of
temperance, detachment and self-control, or lack thereof.

Some results of the research

The hours of play.
Starting from the amount of time spent on video games, the time of
consumption was extremely variable: the minimum recorded is at least an
hour a day (in younger subjects, due to the restrictions imposed by
parents) but already in boys between 14-16, the average rises to 2-3 hours
a day with a height of 7 hours. It has been noted that the greater the age,
the more hours played per day and the time spent playing online with
friends or strangers.

The Pegi System (Pan European Game Information).
The participants of the study, although they know about the Pegi system – the European classification method of games
based on the age of the children – do not take this into account. Even
parents in many cases do not know or do not take into consideration the
information provided by Pegi, and buy their children games, which in
theory, are not intended for their age group (especially when it concerns
the Pegi 18+). In this regard it is good to see how, beyond the word of
mouth among friends, the game playing seen on Youtube and the launches of
production houses are decisive for the choice of video games: all content
which generally ignores or doesn’t bring up Pegi.

Self-control in the game.
Speaking of self-control and temperance in the game, almost all the kids
express a great annoyance in being interrupted while they are playing,
especially if they think they have only just begun. Related to this aspect,
there is the frustration that children experience when they are diminished
by their parents for the time spent playing with phrases like: “Do you
still waste your time with these video games?” Or “You’re still
playing? Do not you have anything better to do?” This type of approach
creates discouragement, because your hobby/passion is considered as “lower”
than other activities (reading/going out/playing sports/watching TV, etc).
In addition, according to the kids, the parents show that they do not
understand that video-playing, just like any other activity, requires its
own time to be lived and appreciated and that almost never is this time
less than an hour.

Playing alone or with others?
One of the principal aspects that emerged from the study is the fact that
most of the kids involved prefer to play with others. Beware, however, of
their conception of playing in the company. Today’s kids make no
distinction between playing together online (so everyone can play from his
or her own home) and playing together physically in the same room. What
matters to them is cooperative or competitive interaction with other

Several positive opportunities emerge from the research that video games
can offer to kids:

– if you play in with others, you can socialize and feel part of a group;

– the games allow you to use digital media in a playful way;

– with electronic games you can learn and hone various skills, such as
hand-eye coordination, reasoning, sense of orientation and creativity;

– video games allow you to learn how to move between real experiences and
virtual sensations (online and offline);

– videogames help us to develop strategies and to search for solutions,
with a goal of problem solving;

– learn to work in teams. In businesses, we would call it team bulding;

– playing with people from other countries and in different languages,
allows you to deal with different identities, opening your mind and making
one more cultured.

In other words, videogames – if used with balance, purpose, rules and common sense
offer some positive aspects in an educational perspective,

as they can be a tool honing and developing children’s soft skills.

To read the full text of the study by Familyandmedia on young people and social networks and to learn other data
and oddities about the relationship with videogames and TV series, download

the ebook of the research here for free.


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