Speaking to Express.co.uk Mr Declercq spoke about the importance of gaming as a social function for many of the UK’s children and adolescents. He said: “Research shows gaming was key to children’s social life during lockdown despite parents’ scepticism towards the medium. 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 the 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.”
The study conducted by HyperX found that six out of ten children, 57 percent, are using gaming to socialise with their friends during the latest lockdown.
Surprisingly, gaming is preferred by children to other forms of digital technology like social media, 51 percent.
Further to this Mark Griffiths, Director of the International Gaming Research Unit and Professor of Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University, described the psychological impact of gaming as being
Mr Griffiths released a study that found a large proprotion of gamers spoke of “interacting with other people” as being one of their favourite aspect of playing computer games.
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“However, during lockdown, both children started to game and I have seen some real benefits.
“With both children being autistic, social communication can be difficult.
“Not seeing their friends in real life has been hugely challenging and has impacted their mental health but being able to chat to their friends online has definitely ensured that their communication skills continue to build.
“My son, aged 9, has massively grown in confidence since he’s been gaming.
“We’ve also used the skills that they’ve learned whilst gaming, in real life.
“Resilience is huge and when the children try and do a specific move and they can’t, they just keep trying until they do.
“So when we are homeschooling, I am able to use these examples saying ‘remember when you couldn’t do that move in your game, you didn’t just give up, so don’t give us with your home schooling’.
“As with anything in life, it’s all about balance but for my children, gaming has had a hugely positive impact on both their mental health and confidence.”
The research for the study referred to by Mr Declercq was conducted by Censuswide and commissioned by HyperX in December 2020 and includes the responses to questions from 1,000 parents, aged 28 plus, and 1,000 children, aged 13 to 18, and living in the UK.