Many of us grew up in a world where video games were a brand new phenomenon, and that meant they confused and frightened our parents. But today’s families view the console as a source of entertainment for everyone.

Sony Computer Entertainment America commissioned research firm Frank N. Magic Associates to look into the attitudes toward gaming of American gamers and their families, and the study found that most people see playing games — especially on consoles — as an inexpensive way to spend time with one another. This leads to 59 percent of parents having a positive view about their kids playing games — although moms, at 50 percent, bring that average down. And those parents would rather their kids play on console because it’s easier to monitor than PC or mobile.

Magid drops this info as more and more children are playing their first games on smartphones and tablets. Industry-tracking company The NPD Group reported earlier this year that  63 percent of kids ages 2 through 17 use their mobile devices for games — that puts it ahead of PCs, which only 45 percent of kids still play on. But despite that shift, people still say they favor the consoles for a variety of reasons. Magic lead analyst and president Mike Vorhaus thinks that’s the case for an obvious reason.

“We saw that the average age of a parent with school-aged children who play video games is 42,” he told GamesBeat. “This means they were in their preteens when games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man came out for the Atari and in their teens when the Nintendo Entertainment System first launched.”

Magid study

Magid study

So this is the first generation of parents who grew up alongside games, and that means they are incorporating the hobby into how they raise their children. That’s because 83 percent of parents think the console is the easiest way to see what their kids are playing.

“Consoles are parents’ preferred gaming platform, according to our results,” said Vorhaus. “Unlike mobile devices, moms and dads feel like they have more control and knowledge of what their kids are playing since it’s right there on the living room TV.”

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But it’s not just easier to monitor; parents are using it as a way to connect and bond with their families. Of the parents with game-playing children, 92 percent play with them. And since parents are already paying attention to what the kid is doing on the TV, it’s easier for them to hop in and start playing as well.

“Lots of games include multiplayer, so parents and kids can play with mom and dad,” said Vorhaus. “That’s a huge opportunity for family together time.”

And when kids are not playing by themselves or with mom and dad, they are often using online console games to stay in touch with friends. Boys between the ages of 12 and 24 do around a third of their social interactions in multiplayer online gaming sessions. And half of gamers who play with friends that live far away use gaming as the primary way to keep in touch.

These behaviors and the attitudes toward gaming is one of the reasons that companies like Sony and Microsoft have put so much effort into the console war. Providing the box that everyone in the family uses for multiple different reasons is important — especially if everyone views these boxes as positive things.

Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. is a major video game company specializing in a variety of areas in the video game industry, and is a wholly owned subsidiary and part of the Consumer Products Services Group of Sony. The company was… read more »

Mike Vorhaus, President of Magid Advisors, founded Frank N. Magid Associates’ Internet practice in 1995 and Gaming practice in 2001. He is a leading analyst and advisor in the gaming and digital spaces. He also leads Magid’s practice a… read more »

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