According to the Preply study, video games increase problem solving and creativity, but leave room for bullying and doxxing.
Video games are an increasingly widespread form of entertainment: there are 3 billion players worldwide and 15.5 million in Italy1 (35% of the population), and many of them are among the very young. As new virtual environments such as metaverses develop, the dynamics of the game world will have an even wider impact. To take stock of an investigation by Prepare – the global language learning platform that connects over 20,000 teachers and tens of thousands of students around the world – with a study on the impact of video games that examines both the perception of effects on adults and children and their use of language in game environments.
From the research, which involved 1,400 players of different nationalities, video games have a positive effect on problem-solving skills (53%), while the influence is particularly negative on sleep (46%). Looking at children, parents believe that playing video games has a beneficial impact on creativity (51%) and social skills (43%), while sleep is confirmed as one of the most sacrificed aspects.
The positive impact of video games
The study compares skills and knowledge developed by the interviewees in relation to the video game medium, some of which are also important in everyday life. These include problem solving (53%), mental health (51%), decision making (48%), hand-eye coordination (46%) and communication skills (40%). Furthermore, the simultaneous presence on the same online platform of players from all over the world helps build and strengthen friendships between different people and exposes players to foreign languages for a more immersive learning experience.
Children and video games
Considering the impact of video games on children and young people, the research reveals that according to parents, children under 18 can be positively influenced by games in aspects of creativity (51%), skills and social life (43%), problem solving and logic (35%), in physical health (35%). 63% of respondents have children who play video games at home. According to parents, 58% of children play from 1 to 3 hours, 30% play 3-6 hours a day, 8% spend less than an hour playing video games every day, 3% play for 7-10 hours.
Bullying, doxxing, swatting: the risks of video games
A complex phenomenon like that of video games also has negative sides, mainly associated with the exposure of players to bullying and other forms of emotional abuse. Preply’s research shows that over 90% of respondents have experienced or witnessed emotional abuse while playing video games, and nearly 7 in 10 have considered quitting for this reason. 2 out of 5 gamers have experienced racist incidents and more than 1 out of 3 have witnessed hate speech on gaming platforms. For others, harassment is also personal: most verbal attacks target victims’ gender identity (44%), ethnicity (34%) and physical appearance (33%). In addition to bullying, 20% of people interviewed admit to having experienced doxxing, the practice of publicly disseminating sensitive information; more than a quarter have instead undergone swatting, the act of abusers contacting 911 numbers with false reports of violent crimes at their victim’s address.
How to limit abuse in video games
However, in contrast to these risks, the interviewed community is prepared: 57% say they block bullies, 49% report them. As for children, 90% of parents say they take care of their children’s safety while playing, and 89% use parental control systems. These opportunities also seem to work in terms of raising awareness: half of young players asked parents about hate speech, and 35% raised the issue of racism at home.