Not all screen time is created equal. An increasing number of studies have showcased the positive impact of video games while directly refuting many of the negative stereotypes typically associated with gamers. Gaming, it turns out, has many benefits, including reducing anxiety and improving spatial navigation, strategic thinking, and memory.
Gaming is also an excellent outlet for socialization, acting as an essential component in many friendships, especially among boys. Far from being an isolating and passive pastime, playing video games can be the perfect way for adolescents — and even parents — to hang out and bond.
However, this doesn’t mean that parents should just open up the floodgates and let kids play whatever games they want as much as they want. Toxic gamers might be a minority, but they are out there. And as with any activity, overindulgence can be a risk.
But unlike many other pastimes, gaming has a built-in aspect that can help keep kids safe and prevent abuse: data. An increasing number of organizations host recreational esports leagues for gamers of all ages that provide structured opportunities for socialization while generating data for creating safe, inclusive, and fun environments. Here’s how organizations can use data analytics in gaming:
1. Promote video game engagement through healthy online habits.
Just like any hobby, good habits and moderation are key components of healthy gaming. Recreational esports offer the perfect way to create screen time boundaries through pre-scheduled, time-windowed matches.
By using data, organizations can learn a lot about when and how long participants play. This can help further inform how they use their leagues to promote better habits. And because structured programming normalizes gaming, parents can feel more comfortable letting their kids get involved from an earlier age.
2. Create safe environments for socialization and fun.
One of the biggest benefits of gaming is the ability for players to make and maintain friendships through video games. While some people still think of gaming as a solitary pursuit, the truth is that more than 70% of gamers play with at least one friend — and 36% of teenagers say they’ve made new friends while playing online. Recreational esports require players to collaborate and communicate to win, creating a bonding experience that can’t be found elsewhere.
36% of teenagers say they’ve made new friends while playing online
Like in real life, it’s important to make sure that these bonds are being made with the right people — especially when it involves adolescents. With organized recreational esports leagues, parents and organizers have an unparalleled amount of insight and control over who participates and what kinds of conversations are happening. It’s a less abrasive way to encourage socialization and ensure safety while kids are playing video games.
3. Develop a more engaged community.
Organizations can use data analytics in gaming to create more engagement opportunities for community members. They can find out what kinds of games their members are most enthusiastic about and adjust their offerings accordingly. They can also drill deeper, breaking engagement down by demographics to determine which leagues appeal to specific groups.
Organizations like schools or parks and recreation departments can even use participation data to determine whether some players might be interested in related programming. For example, if some kids are really into “NBA 2K,” they might also be interested in joining a local basketball league. The information gleaned from recreational esports leagues can be put to good use to help players become active participants in their communities — both digitally and in the real world.
More than 90% of teens in America are gamers. Considering the positive impact of video games, this presents organizations with a significant opportunity to refine and capitalize on something kids are already doing. By taking advantage of recreational esports data, organizations can enhance the social and educational benefits of gaming and ensure the safety of all participants.