Video games and young children’s evolving sense of identity: a qualitative study

Dina H Bassiouni, Christopher Hackley

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This paper investigates children’s experience as consumers of video games and associated digital communication technology, and the role this experience may play in their evolving senses of identity.
Research design
Qualitative depth interviews and discussion groups with a convenience sample of 22 children of both genders aged 6-12, parents and video games company executives in the South West of the UK. The fully transcribed data sets amounting to some 27,000 words were analysed using discourse analysis.
The findings revealed the heightened importance knowledge of video games plays in children’s strategies for negotiating their nascent sense of identity with regard to peer groups, family relationships, and gender identity. Video games were not only a leisure activity but also a shared cultural resource that mediated personal and family relationships.
Research Limitations
The study is based on an interpretive analysis of data sets from a small convenience sample, and therefore is not statistically generalisable.
Practical implications
This study has suggested that there may be positive benefits to children's video game playing related to aspects of socialisation, emotional development and economic decision-making. An important caveat is that these benefits arise in the context of games as a part of a loving and ordered family life with a balance of activities.
Social implications
The study hints at the extent to which access to video games and associated digital communications technology has changed children’s experience of childhood and integrated them into the adult world in positive as well as negative ways that were not available to previous generations.
This research addresses a gap in the field and adds to our understanding of the impact of video games on children’s development by drawing on children’s own expression of their subjective experience of games to engage with wider issues of relationships and self-identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-142
Number of pages16
JournalYoung Consumers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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