Teenagers and gaming

A teenager wearing a headset sits on the couch while playing a video game.

Video games are more popular than ever and, for a lot of teens, they’re more than just a fun activity. Many teens find that gaming helps them to relax and feel better about themselves.

This page will help you to:

  • learn more about gaming

  • understand why your teen plays video games

  • understand the wellbeing benefits and impacts of gaming.

What is gaming?

‘Gaming’ refers to the act of playing video games. They can be played on consoles (such as PlayStation or Xbox), computers, smartphones, tablets and virtual reality headsets. A teen who enjoys gaming regularly might identify as a ‘gamer’.

For some teens, gaming isn’t just about playing video games; it’s also about engaging in communities made up of people with shared interests. Gaming communities interact with each other within the games, across social media or in person.

Why do teens game?

There are several reasons why teens play video games:

  • Entertainment: One of the main reasons teens game is that it’s fun. The visuals, sound effects and storylines are usually designed to be immersive and enjoyable.

  • Socialising: Gaming is a shared hobby for many teens. They might play with friends in person, or chat with them through text, voice or video while playing the game. Gaming is also an opportunity to connect with new people, either virtually or in person through community events and meetups.

  • Distraction: Gaming can temporarily take your teen’s mind off some of the challenges they’re dealing with.

  • Sense of achievement: The aim in most games is to progress through levels that become increasingly difficult. Improving their skills and being rewarded for it can feel fulfilling to teens.

  • Sense of control: Teens are able to take charge and influence the outcome within a game in ways that might not feel possible for them in real life.

There are countless different genres and sub-genres of gaming. These are just a few of the more common ones.


These games involve the player adopting the role of a main character who must collect objects, overcome obstacles and fight enemies. Some examples of action games include Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda.

Role playing

In role-playing games, the player designs their character and goes through a series of quests. As they progress, their character develops new powers and skills. Examples of role-playing games include Pokémon and Final Fantasy.


Sandbox games don’t often have a set storyline or a goal that the player has to fulfil. Players can explore the game’s world more freely and creatively. Popular sandbox games are Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto.


This type of video game is focused on defeating enemies or threats by using weapons. Fortnite and Call of Duty are some popular shooter games.


These games allow the player to simulate sports such as soccer, football and basketball. Examples of sports games include FIFA and NBA 2K.

Gaming sites

Aside from playing games, teens can connect with other gamers on gaming sites. Some of the popular ones include:

  • Discord: This platform is primarily for chatting to people about common interests. 

  • Twitch: This is a streaming platform where you can watch livestreams and prerecorded videos of other gamers as they play video games. You can chat to other people who are also watching the video. 

  • Roblox: On this site, gamers can create their own video games and share them with others to play. 

Is gaming violent? 

Some games contain violence, while many others don’t. Like movies, video games are classified to help teens and their parents or carers decide whether they are appropriate for their age. Read more about video game classifications.

While violent and graphic content can affect how teens feel, experts say that video games aren’t a direct cause of violent behaviour and that violence is a complex issue with multiple causes.

Positive effects of gaming on teen wellbeing and friendships

Gaming is a positive experience for a lot of teens. It can benefit their wellbeing by:

One parent who was dealing with their teen’s school refusal shared in the ReachOut Parents Forum how gaming was helpful for their family:

Gaming provides our teen with a sense of belonging and friends that accept them. Through gaming, they feel in control and that they can accomplish things. [As parents] we gave up trying to restrict it … After a while, we gradually introduced other activities such as a 15-minute walk on the beach and then karate classes. Most importantly, our teen spent time gaming with kids from school online and that gave them the confidence to be able to try school again.


Potential impacts on teen wellbeing and health

While most young people describe gaming as a positive experience on the whole, it also has the potential to have some other impacts on their wellbeing: