Healthy Gaming: Family Dynamics, Adolescent Development, and Equity

Digital gaming is a fact of life for teens today, as 97% report playing games regularly. The rise of gaming has raised both concerns and hopes regarding its potential impact on the health and well-being of children and adolescents. Existing research identifies a range of positive and negative effects. Much of the public conversation around gaming is clouded by persistent stereotypes about gaming as addictive and antisocial but research suggests that, like non-digitally mediated forms of child play, games can also encourage child well-being and healthy social adjustment. Despite the strong influence of gaming in young people’s lives, how it can have positive and negative impacts on adolescent health and wellness is poorly understood. Our team, which spans expertise across data science, game design, educational technology design, HCI, data analytics, clinical, developmental and health psychology, education, and anthropology is developing an evidence-and-solutions-focused approach to understanding and developing ways that gaming can contribute to adolescent health and wellness. We are exploring four research strands: 1. Detection: “How might data analytics be used for studying adolescent interactions in gaming environments?” 2. Translation: “How might existing adolescent prevention and wellness interventions be translated into online gaming environments as a means of supporting youth digital health?” 3. Design: “How might gaming be used as a platform to decrease conflict and/or increase positive forms of engagement in parent-adolescent relationships?” 4. Impact: “How might a focus on connections between family dynamics and adolescent development improve evidence-based guidelines for healthy gaming?”

Project Leads: Katie Salen, Candice Odgers, Stephanie Reich, Kurt Squire, Constance Steinkuehler, Sameer Singh, Mimi Ito, Gillian Hayes