Teens, Games and Civics: Amanda Lenhart, Pew Internet & American Life Project

“97% of teens age 12-17 play video games” ~Amanda Lenhart

Amanda Lenhart, who seems to be the lead writer and research on Pew Internet & American Life’s teens and technology studies, spoke about the newest study, Teens, Video Games and Civics. She explained the methods of the research, and the objectives: to find out who plays, what they play, and what they experience WHEN they play. Methods are phone polling – 1,102 youth age 12-17 and parents (margin of error: +/- 3%). Some results:

  • 97% of teens play videogames (39 out of 1100)
  • 50% say they played a game yesterday
  • 86% play on consoles
  • 73% play on computers
  • 60% play on portables
  • 48% play on cell phones
  • 99% of boys and 94% of girls are playing games (major difference is how long they play, only 18% of girls play more than 2 hours a day, compared to 39% of boys)
  • Younger teens play more frequently than older teens; broadband users play more frequently.

A snapshot of the daily gamer:

  • 65% boys, 35% girls
  • more likely to own portable devices
  • more likely to play as part of a guild
  • more likely to play with others online
  • spend time face to face and communication with friends

Teens are playing a variety of games; but there are some gender differences. Girls play fewer genres and have different preferences (girls: puzzle racing, rhythm, adventure sports; boys: action, sports, racing adventure, FPS)

  • 21% play MMOGs (World of Warcraft) — 30% of boys, 11% of girls
  • 10% play in virtual worlds that are easy to master (Club Penguin, Whyville)

Most popular games are not violent, and they tend to be franchises (GH, Halo3, Madden Solitaire, DDR, Tetris). 79% of M/AO gamers are boys; 21% are girls – why? – they are engaging, and great games. They are popular all around. Parental monitoring does NOT reduce M/AO rated game play; nor does witnessing anti-social behaviors in game.Gaming for teens is a way to socialize/be interactive. 42% play in person with people they now; 15% play with friends online; 42% ply alone. Speed is a defining factor – more likely to play with other people if they have broadband, not dialup.The Civics piece: what works?

  • Instruction in government
  • discussing current events
  • service learning
  • extracurricular activities (model UN)
  • Student voices in school/classroom

Simulations:  Games that are simulations related to civics

More civic gaming experience = More civic engagement

  • looking up election information online
  • fundraising
  • participating in protest or march
  • volunteering

Social Game Play (playing with people you know in the same room) correlates with civic engagement; civic gaming experiences are more equitably distributed than classroom civics experiences. Summary: Games are universal among teens; they are a social space; they hold promise for civics teaching and learning.