It’s not new news that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in online gaming, particularly amongst children.
The 2020/21 Ofcom’s Media Use Report highlighted that around seven in ten children aged 5-15 played games online during 2020. The data also revealed that time spent on ‘video games’ in a typical day increased in 2020 among children aged 5-15 overall.
Research commissioned by HyperX earlier this year suggested that gaming has actually been beneficial for children during the pandemic. Of the 1,000 parents (aged 28 or above) spoken to, over half of them felt that gaming had helped their children cope with lockdown, with exactly 50% saying that it has improved their children’s mental health.
However, there is speculation that the games market will decline slightly this year, as children are once again allowed to socialise face to face, but is this the case, or will children continue to use gaming as their means of interacting with their friends?
We spoke to some children about their gaming habits, what impact lockdown had, and what their gaming behaviour looks like post lockdown.
Many of the kids that we spoke to are frequently playing games with friends that they know from school, sports/hobbies, or sometimes online with people that they haven’t met in real life. Games like Fortnite and Minecraft are particularly favoured for their social aspects, and several of the children that we spoke to cited “my friends play it” as their main reason for spending their time on these games.
With the range of resources around, kids now have a multitude of ways to communicate with their friends during gaming – many use voice-based systems, from Discord to the Playstation Party Button, and some even use video-calling apps such as FaceTime to see their friends face-to-face as they play.
Even before lockdown fully eases, children have already seen a decrease in their time spent gaming since the first lockdown. However, events such as self-isolation can quickly cause all of that to change, as gaming is a great way to keep entertained when options are limited. As restrictions lower properly, we would expect to see a bit of a decrease in gaming as “going out” becomes more of an option, but also, as kids will have more free time during the summer holidays, gaming is still anticipated to be a prominent use of their time.
We also asked kids about their spending habits in the games that they play. Kids have been buying occasional items within their games – either with their own pocket money or via gifts or rewards from family members – including many cosmetic items such as skins and voice packs; however, a couple of the children that we spoke to have moved away from this as they worry about the value of what they are getting. In terms of spending their money, games seem to be a lower priority than more traditional items, such as shopping, clothes, and sweets.
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Games mentioned in our interviews: