Most of what kids do online is scoffed at by adults, but this comes with a catch. Take watching other people play video games online. Despite most adults scratching their heads wondering how this could possibly be interesting, latest figures by Google show that in 2020, one hundred billion hours was spent watching gaming content on YouTube. You can travel to Neptune and back 475,000 times in that time.
I carry out research with kids and talk to them about it. For them, it’s much like watching their favourite sport star on the field. They enjoy the skill and the commentary that goes along with it. They might watch a top video-gaming star or just someone having a go at live streaming their game play. It’s like us watching The Voice, or any competitive TV program. Watching other people’s skill level and making comparisons can be entertaining and interesting. Kids tell me that old people watch sport on TV, young people watch gaming videos.
Our judgmental stance doesn’t just stop at gaming videos. We think their use of social media is a waste of time, we fob off their incessant group chat, and shake our head at those never ending TikTok videos. A report by Common Sense media indicates that teens spend most of their waking day – more than seven hours – on screens for entertainment.