Video games 8 and gameplay are pervasive in the lives of most American teens — and for boys in particular, video games serve as a major venue for the creation and maintenance of friendships. Over the past two decades, video game and internet technology have shifted, eliminating the need to be in the same room as a requirement for playing games with friends and others. Innovations in game design and platforms have increased the opportunities to interact and socialize while playing.
In the analysis that follows, we investigate more deeply the role of video games in teen friendships, with a particular focus on the way in which gaming spaces impact and contribute to friendships among boys. Video games are not simply entertaining media; they also serve as a potent opportunity for socializing for teens with new friends and old.
And boys do this more frequently. Younger boys who game are especially likely to play together in same room as others — more likely than any groups of girls who game. Advances in networks, as well as console and computer capabilities, mean there are more ways to play with others than there have been in the past. Often, these modes of group play are more accessible than in-person group play. Three-quarters of teens who play games play them with others with whom they are connected over the internet.
Not only are boys more likely than girls to play games with others over a network, they do so with much greater frequency. Many teens play games with pals as a part of in-person friendships. But teens also play with people they know only online.
Teens who play games in a networked environment also play with and against other people they do not consider to be friends. In our focus groups, the responses to questions about who teens play with ran the gamut.
Some teens noted they particularly enjoy playing with people who are not their friends. Some teens told us that they relish the competitive aspect of playing with unknown quantities. Other teens told us they liked playing games because they could be a different person. And still others benefit from the opportunity to take out their frustrations on people they would never interact with again. Networked online gameplay becomes a vehicle for friendship, interaction and trash talk when the players connect with each other by voice as well as through the mechanics of the game.
Nearly six-in-ten teens who play games online with others use a voice connection — through the console, the game or a separate platform e. These voice connections enable all types of communication through the game — conversations about mundane things, strategizing in-game play and trash talking.
And we would just share thoughts. No hellos. Focus group data suggests that trash talking is pervasive in online gaming and that it can create a challenging conversational climate. Unless you take it seriously. Cause some people take certain things personally. For some teens, trash talking is an integral and even enjoyable part of playing networked games. Some teens do not use the voice connection to trash talk, but instead to plan game play. That way we can hear each other and tell each other, like, where we are.
And some younger teens were put off by the language and name-calling of trash talking. You have to leave. I was playing with my friend. And then I just like left the game and invited him [my friend]. And the guy that was trash talking joined me. He started trash talking, so I just got off everything.
Older teen boys talked about how younger teens, in this case siblings, needed to learn how to handle trash talk in games. Whether on headsets or in person, teens who play networked games talk with their friends while they play. And as noted previously, when comparing talking by video gaming to other modes of communication and interaction with friends, gaming ranks substantially higher for boys as a mode of daily communication than it does for girls, for whom it ranks at the very bottom. Playing games can have the effect of reinforcing a sense of friendship and connectedness for teens who play online with friends.
Networked gameplay is less effective at connecting online-gaming teens with those who are not yet their friends. Online gameplay also has the ability to provoke anger and frustration as well as relaxation and happiness in the teens who play. A larger percentage of teens say playing games allows them to feel more relaxed and happy than the percentage who report anger and frustration. The flip side is that playing games also can provoke feelings of anger or frustration in those who play games with others online.
A middle school boy in one of our focus groups describes getting angry while playing video games. Maybe they were off by a little bit. And it just gets you angry about that. Below we highlight the most notable differences between groups in how their use of video games intersects with their friendships. Teens from the lowest-income homes are the most likely to say they feel connected to people they are not friends with when they play online games with others. Rural teens are less likely to play with others online, but, if they do, they are more likely to play with people they know only online.
Conversely, rural teens who play networked games are more likely than suburban teens to play with friends that they only know online. There are few differences between black, Hispanic and white teens when it comes to friends and video gameplay. White and Hispanic teens are more likely than black teens to report feeling more angry and frustrated when they played networked games with others. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.
It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions.
It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. If you have been invited to participate in one of our surveys, please click here. Home U. Main More. Teens mostly play networked games with friends; more than half of boys also play with online only friends and strangers Many teens play games with pals as a part of in-person friendships.
For the bulk of teens who play games online with others, playing makes them feel connected to friends Playing games can have the effect of reinforcing a sense of friendship and connectedness for teens who play online with friends. Urban and suburban teens more likely to play networked games with others Rural teens are less likely to play with others online, but, if they do, they are more likely to play with people they know only online.
Teens of different racial and ethnic groups sometimes have different experiences and reactions when they are gaming There are few differences between black, Hispanic and white teens when it comes to friends and video gameplay. Unless otherwise noted, in this report we use the term video games to encompass all types of gameplay on computers, consoles, tablets or phones.
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