Wednesday, 17 Sep, 2008 Science
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Computer Games Help Youngsters Be More Social

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The results of Pew Internet research of American teenagers showed that the majority of youngsters prefer playing computer games with friends and communities rather than alone, which leads to the conclusion that games make teenagers more social.

Researchers studied 1,102 teenagers aged between 12 and 17. They discovered that a lot of teenagers played educational games in order to learn more about world issues and be involved in politics.

Playing computer games became a universal past time activity among US teens, with about 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls playing some kind of computer game. A report revealed that Guitar Hero was the most popular title, followed by Halo 3 and Madden NFL. Among other popular titles there is Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution.

According to Amanda Lenhart, who holds the position of a senior research specialist at the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and who is the author of the report, teenagers play a wide variety of video and computer games, including games about solving problems and those where you go out and drive things or play a sport.

She mentioned that if a teen plays video games it doesn't necessary mean that he or she will turn into a loner. In addition, if teenagers play video games every day it won't have any negative impact on their social lives.

"Three quarters of teens actually play these games with other people, whether online or in person. People who game on a daily basis are just as likely to talk on the phone, to email, to spend time with a friend face to face outside of school as kids who play games less," she said.

She noted that youngsters who had to deal with some problems in virtual communities were more likely to raise money for charity, volunteer, stay up-to-date with political issues or convince others to vote.

Based on the results, Lenhart said that parents should watch the games that their children play. She advised to monitor what the kids are doing in the games and search for games that provide opportunities to have "more civically-minded experiences."

Source: BBC

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