What role does gaming play in kids’ lives? What drives gaming choices, what devices do they use, and what types of games do they like best?

Nickelodeon Kids & Family GPS recently conducted a study to learn more about kids’ and parents’ attitudes toward gaming. The project consisted of a 10-minute survey of kids and parents across 10 countries/regions (UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and Southeast Asia). Here are key findings:

While parents and kids clearly enjoy gaming, kids are more passionate gamers who devote more time to playing. Both groups play for different reasons.

  • 50% of kids say they love games (a “10” on a scale of 1 to 10), compared with 17% of parents
  • Kids spend  an average of 6.3 hours a week gaming—significantly higher than parents (4.3 hours/week)
  • Parents’ and kids’ main reasons for gaming are different—parents want to relax and switch off from work; kids enjoy the challenge, being able to discuss the games at school, and completing all levels quickly
  • Parents and kids alike look for games with good graphics–but kids have additional expectations (fun storylines, ability to stop and restart games, variety of characters)

Gaming fulfills several roles for parents and kids: as a bonding experience, a safe environment for competitiveness, and a platform for social interaction and friendship.

  • For a third of parents, the main reason for playing games is to spend time with their family/children
  • 81% of parents talk about games with their kids and 69% get tips and tricks from them
  • 7 out of 10 kids enjoy competing with friends and family
  • 6 in 10 parents agree that gaming allows their kids to be competitive in a controlled environment
  • Parents mostly see gaming as having a positive impact on their kids’ social lives, with nearly half agreeing that gaming helps their children interact with friends more
  • But gaming can be a social impediment for some kids and a concern for parents, with a significant minority of kids (32%) saying they would rather play games than spend time with friends/family

Boys’ and girls’ gaming behavior varies greatly.

  • Boys are more passionate about gaming, with 55% of boys and 41% of girls saying they love playing games
  • Boys play more on average than girls, with boys spending 6.7 hours a week gaming and girls spending 5.6 hours
  • The competitive and social nature of gaming is more pronounced for boys, while girls play games to relax and learn new things
  • Boys prefer competitive games (sports, fighting, role-playing), while girls prefer more creative and caring games (fashion, pets)

Tablets and gaming consoles are the most common gaming devices among kids.

  • 63% of kids use tablets to play games and 59% use gaming consoles
  • Kids are much more likely than parents to use tablets and consoles for gaming (just over 40% of parents use them)
  • Kids and parents are almost equally likely to game using smartphones (about 55% of both groups) and laptops/notebooks (about half of both groups)
  • On average, kids use more devices for gaming than parents (kids = 3.4 devices, parents = 2.6)
  • The top gaming consoles are Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii
  • Nintendo DS is more popular among girls, while boys are more likely to use the Nintendo 3DS

The games kids enjoy most are challenging, fun, engaging, and allow them to play against their friends.

  • Minecraft is currently the favorite game among kids, followed by Angry Birds, Fifa 2014, Candy Crush, and Mario
  • Comparing parents’ and kids’ preferences, they differ more by gender than by age—fathers and sons prefer competitive games involving sports, while mothers and daughters prefer creative games and puzzles