Parents of Teenagers and Children who use Virtual Gaming during COVID
The COVID pandemic has been restricting children and teens' access to real-life friends and typically summer activities. In Alberta, some summer programs and camps have begun opening their doors to allow for restricted "socially distant" activities. However, a survey by the California-based Roblox company reported that 52% of teens spend the same or more time with real-life friends in Roblox, other online games, or voice/chat programs during the pandemic.
Roblox also surveyed 2,926 teens ages 13-18 via Reach3 Insights from May 8 to May 11, as part of the company’s Digital Civility Initiative. The majority of respondents say they like to play their favorite games (79%), try out new games (64%), and also have conversations (62%), which emphasizes the importance of social interactions as part of their experience on the platform.
During COVID-19, teens who were surveyed are currently hanging out more with their online Roblox friends (56%) compared to their real-life friends (44%). Teens also indicated that some of the perceived advantages of online friends was that their was acceptance without regard for appearance (35%) and the ease of making friends quickly (32%). Teens also mentioned that they lean on their online friends to discuss difficult topics such as COVID-19 (25%).
These numbers suggest that virtual gaming has some significant benefits for teens and children. With appropriate online supervision from parents, virtual gaming can play a major factor in supporting teens and children with self-esteem, social skills, and building confidence.
The question remains: can virtual gaming (or online social relationships) replace real-life friendships?
The answer is not simple. What is known is that virtual gaming is become more advanced and online companies such as Roblox are working towards developing games which require collaboration, teamwork, and chat communication.
Summary: During the COVID pandemic, children and teens have increased there virtual gaming time and are increasingly developing online friendships with their peers. Parents should not disqualify the valuable benefits of virtual gaming and should consider how they can support their child with choosing games that foster friendships, acceptance, and collaboration.