Playing video games has become a vital resource for young people to socialise with friends during the latest lockdown, according to new research.
A study by gaming accessories firm HyperX found that more than half of 13 to 18-year-olds are using games to stay connected with friends in lockdown.
It suggests that young people see video games as the preferred medium for socialising over social media or messaging and video calling apps.
The study also asked parents for their views and 77% of those asked said they believed gaming in lockdown had helped their child stay in touch with friends and half agreed it had helped with their child’s mental health.
However, despite acknowledging the social and mental health benefits, many parents still view video games as a waste of time.
Only 33% of parents said they thought gaming was a productive use of time.
Commenting on the research, Dr Dieter Declercq, lecturer in film and media studies at the University of Kent, said: “Gaming is an important way for adolescents to socialise with their friends – and the importance of gaming’s social function has become even more significant during lockdown.
“Three out of five children prefer to play games with or against other people online with far fewer opting to play on their own.
“When children think of gaming in 2021, most now think of it as something they do with other people, especially to interact with their peers, but also to make new connections.
“This social function of gaming is of course very valuable during a time when there is less physical interaction possible.
“The pandemic has really highlighted the role of gaming in the social life of young people and the way they communicate with friends.”
Dayna Sinclair, UK regional manager at HyperX, said: “Our research shows that the vast majority of parents and their children agree that gaming has been a helpful tool during the lockdown.
“Video games have an important and valuable role to play in the social lives of many people during these challenging times, especially for children.
“It is encouraging that parents understand that gaming is more than just a hobby for their children.
“It is a way to connect, talk, make friends and compete while stuck at home. Gaming brings people together even when we are apart.”