Connie Yowell: First National Survey on Gaming and Civics Out Today


9.16.08 | We knew that the Pew survey on gaming and civics, the first of its kind, would be important to the field of digital media and learning.  The survey’s findings, which affirm the social elements of game play, are consistent with other Foundation-supported research—including Mimi Ito’s forthcoming ethnography of kid’s informal learning through knowledge cultures—that focus on the participatory nature of new media.  The Pew survey reveals that 97% of young people (94% of girls) play video games, often with friends. This finding not only challenges long held stereotypes about gaming, it also suggests broader changes in the way that young people learn and participate in civic life.  For example, perhaps most exciting is that more than 75% of teens have gaming experiences, such as helping others and thinking about moral and ethical issues, which parallel aspects of civic life.  Moreover, having these experiences is closely related to other measures of civic engagement such as going online to get information about politics and raising money for charity. 

We’re excited about these results and see them as the beginning of an important discussion about the role of digital media in learning, community, and citizenship in the 21st century.  And we feel that the findings should inspire parents to observe what games their children are playing, talk with their children about gaming experiences, and look for opportunities to exploit the civic and learning possibilities of games.

We’re continuing our discussion of these important findings on Spotlight today with posts from the principal authors of the report, Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Internet and American Life Project here and Joe Kahne of the Civic Engagement Research Group at Mills College here. Joe’s research group has also issued a white paper that examines the implications of the civics findings for parents, educators, and game designers.

Additionally, look for more posts in the coming weeks from researchers and practitioners discussing what these findings might mean for their work, followed in a few weeks by the release of a white paper and book discussing the findings of Mimi Ito’s Digital Youth Project.


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Most of the teen in today’s world love playing games and thats the reason why xbox and playstations are so famous these days. I appreciate the fact that you have written such a wonderful post smile


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