How social media are swallowing your kids' games

Think cyberbullying is something that only happens on Snapchat and Instagram? Think again. According to a government report, 200,000 Aussie kids a year are being bullied while playing multiplayer online games.

Rapid innovation in Australia’s billion-dollar gaming and e-sports industries means the boundaries between social media and online gaming are going the way of Atari and Pac-man.

The report, published this month by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, found that only 20% of kids aged 8-17 do not play online games. Among the remaining 80%, half report playing with strangers they’ve met online.

One in five bullied

Nearly one in five multiplayer gamers has experienced in-game bullying. That works out to more than 200,000 young Australians. The study showed that 11-12-year-olds were particularly vulnerable.

Most bullying occurs in games through chat features, which in most cases can be turned off in game settings. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they can also be easily turned back on.

Kids funding the industry

In-app purchases made by children are a big part of  the reason Australia’s billion-dollar gaming industry is worth, well, billions. The report found that more than a third of the nation’s children made an in-game purchase in the 12 months to June 2017.  Among boys, the figure was over 50%.

Across Australia, industry estimates suggest games and associated hardware generated A$3.2 billion in sales in 2017. Globally, the industry is worth upwards of US$100 billion, and is projected to grow by 70% by 2020.

old gamers.jpegIt's not just kids. Gamers are getting older all the time.

Despite the growth in the kids’ market, on the whole, gamers are getting older, not younger. In 2004, the average age of a gamer was 24. Today, it’s 34.

Summary of findings

Here’s a summary of the key findings:

  • The online gaming space is undergoing rapid innovation and change. From e-sports to mobile gaming, it has grown to become a multi-billion dollar industry.
  • Eight in 10 young people aged 8–17 played games online in the 12 months to June 2017.
  • Online multiplayer gaming is a very popular activity for young Australians, with 6 in 10 young people aged 8–17 having played these games.
  • Anonymity is an important aspect of online gaming: 1 in 2 young people have played multiplayer games online with people they have not met in person.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 young people have played e-sport game titles like League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. However, the proportion of young people participating in e-sport tournaments (both amateur and professional) was only 4%.
  • Around 34% of young people aged 8–17 made an in-game purchase in the 12 months to June 2017.
  • An estimated 17% of multiplayer gamers experienced in-game bullying—equating to more than 200,000 young Australians.
  • Young people who experienced bullying while gaming online responded in a variety of ways. Forty-two percent, for example, turned off the in-game chat function; 41% ignored the bullying; and 38% stopped playing a game with the bully/bullies.  
  • Young people also used more formal channels to deal with bullying. Nearly 30% of multiplayer gamers who experienced bullying reported it to game moderators.

Do you have some young gamers in your life? If you’re concerned about the quality or the quantity of time they’re spending online, Family Zone can help.

Our powerful parental control technology can ensure gaming stays fun and safe, and never gets out of control. The best part? It’s so simple, even an adult can do it.

Take cyber safety “next-level” … with Family Zone.

featured photo credit: MarcosPower1996

Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, Cyber Safety, Gaming, Social Media, cyberbullying

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