video games

Video Games for fun, family and the future: Digital Australia Report 2016

The gaming industry in Australia is growing at an astronomical rate and so it seems that we as a nation and as families, should start paying attention. Why? Because the statistics from the recent Digital Australia report from IGEA in conjunction with Bond University, offer us a real insight in to the experiences of those playing video games and what that means for our families.  For ourselves, for our children and even for our own parents and grandparents.

Here are some of the main findings of the report:

  • 98% of households with children have at least one gaming device.
  • the average age of a video game player is 33 years of age.
  • females make up 47% of all game players.
  • The over 50’s were saw the greatest increase in video game players
  • 10 % of kids have thought about a career in gaming
  • 39% of over 65’s play video games
  • 17% of over 85 year olds play video games
  •  89% say video games improve thinking skills
  • 24% say they have used video games at work for trainings

So how can we interpret these findings and the effects on our families?

Video Games to connect the generations

If the over 50’s saw the greatest increase in gaming, then this is an area we really should be tapping in to. What better way to do that than to encourage some of those older game players to play with their grandchildren. What a great way for kids to bond with the elderly, and for the older generations to continue to keep their minds active and to share a common interest with those younger folk.  If 39% of all video game players are over 65 this is something that could provide enormous benefits for both generations, especially when it seems parents, particularly those of older school children, are the least likely to play games, which probably comes down to time constraints and other priorities of running a household. But if this is something our older family members are already engaging in, then certainly this could be an area we could look at encouraging further.

Video Games for learning

If 35% of our children have used games in the curriculum to help them learn, this is also a statistic that will only grow exponentially as schools realise the benefits of using games to learn. We need parents to get on board to realise that the technology is not simply ‘replacing’ traditional learning tools. It is not about typing instead of writing, it is not about reading an ebook as opposed to a paper one, and it is not about being lazy and getting technology to do all the work. The technology can have an enormous impact on the opportunities for kids to build awareness, gain a greater understanding of concepts and have a more hands on, creative and global approach to learning.

Video games for a future career

If 10% of our kids are thinking about a career in gaming, then that’s a pretty high percentage when you think of all the possible career options out there. And in an industry that is worth $2.462 billion dollars in Australia and has had a 20% growth in industry in the past year, then maybe more people should be thinking about this as a very viable career option. Especially since having an active interest in gaming and STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) provides huge advantages to those ready to start engaging in the industry well before they are leaving school for tertiary education. There are opportunities to learn about gaming, start creating and getting involved in the industry from a much younger age than many other career paths.

Video games for heart, health and mind

For young kids they are playing games for relaxation, for fun and for stress release. For others, video games provide a sense of connection and belonging. All really valid reasons. For our older generations however, they see the video games as a great way to stave off memory loss and to keep their minds active. The portability of the ‘tablet’ adds to the ease of game playing and is something that is easily worked in to peoples daily routines. And do you remember that ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ machine you saw at Timezone in the 90’s? Putting your feet on the square that lights up in time to the music became the prototype for new machines that are helping patients rehabilitate and helping those suffering illnesses such as MS. Games are also keeping the brains of Alzheimers patients active and staving off other neurodegenerative disorders. So physical, cognitive, social and emotional benefits can all come in to play.

These are some really important findings when we look at the role that video games may play in our families, in our relationships, to our learning and even to our health. Once again we need to keep things balanced and in perspective when it comes to how we incorporate the advancing technology in to our lives,  and an open mind to what opportunities await for the future.

Have you noticed any positive effects from video games in your family?

For more information on the report done in by Jeffrey Brand from Bond University in conjunction with IGEA (Interactive Games and Entertainment Association) you can view the report here. 

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