Children’s Motivations for Video Game Play in the Context of Normal Development


Electronic games are now an everyday part of childhood and adolescence. The debate has moved from whether children should play video games to how to maximize potential benefits and to identify and minimize potential harms. To do this, we must understand what motivates children to play electronic games and what needs the games meet. Drawing on a survey of 1,254 middle school children, focus groups with boys and their parents, and findings from other quantitative and qualitative research, the author describes a variety of motivations for video game play (including games with violent content) and how these may vary based on factors such as mood, environment, personality, and developmental stage. The findings are put into the context of normal development, and suggestions are given for parents, educators, and researchers.

Recommended by the Institute of Play.

Cheryl K. Olson

This article is protected under the copyright of the American Psychological Association.

Publication Date
Saturday, January 16, 2010