This article first appeared on Roblox on June 29, 2020.
Survey of the Roblox community shows that parents are increasingly supportive as teens lean on social gaming and media platforms for friend connections during physical distancing
SAN MATEO, Calif., June 29, 2020 – Over half (52%) of teens surveyed by Roblox, a global online entertainment platform bringing more than 120 million people together through play, say that during COVID-19 they are spending the same amount or more time with their real-life friends via Roblox, voice/chat programs, and other online gaming platforms. Data from this new survey of nearly 3,000 teens conducted as part of the company’s Digital Civility Initiative shows when teens get together with their real-life friends on Roblox, one of their top three activities is having conversations. The majority of respondents say they like to play their favorite games (79%), try out new games (64%), and also have conversations (62%), emphasizing the importance of social interactions as part of their experience on the platform.
“We’ve heard from many parents that teens are especially resilient in times of physical distancing as it’s natural for them to lean into online play to connect with others and get support for their mental well-being,” said Laura Higgins, director of community safety and digital civility at Roblox. “Our community reinforced this observation, sharing in their survey responses just how meaningful online friendships are with two in five reporting that their relationships with online friends on Roblox got even better during COVID-19.”
Teens’ relationships improved within the supportive Roblox community
During COVID-19, teens surveyed are currently hanging out more with their online Roblox friends (56%) compared to their real-life friends (44%). Among the top advantages of online friendships, they list acceptance without regard for appearance (35%) and the ease of making friends quickly (32%). Teens also note they can lean on their online friends to discuss difficult topics such as COVID-19 (25%).
Survey data points to improved online relationships while spending more time at home and online: in addition to acknowledging positive changes in relationships with Roblox friends, teens are also experiencing the Roblox community at large as more helpful (44%), friendly (34%), and patient (26%).
Stay-at-home time sparked interest in trying new things
While the vast majority of teens surveyed (79%) continued playing their favorite games together with their real-life friends, when asked whether they were doing anything different on Roblox during stay-at-home orders, over half (62%) said they were trying new games and 41% tried new game genres. Over a quarter (29%) of teens reported that they started building their own games or learning how to code during this time.
Parents are getting more engaged in teens’ online lives
Social distancing has caused an increase in time spent online: 44% of teens report getting more screen time because their parents aren’t being as strict and 69% say they are playing more on Roblox because of more time at home and learning online. While it’s expected that parents would be less concerned about screen time during physical distancing, the survey also reflected a very positive trend in parent-teen relationships. Nearly a third of respondents (30%) say parents are showing more interest in their online lives, including learning about and playing Roblox with them (in an earlier study conducted in March 2020*, 68% of teens said they wanted their parents to be more involved in their online lives). One in five teens (21%) say their parents also trust them more when it comes to who they speak with online.
“All the research is clear: joint media engagement is what kids need, and grownups who take an interest in their children’s digital lives consistently discover how easy it is to model positive social behaviors and open up clear channels for proactive communication,” said Dr. Jordan Shapiro, author, researcher and expert on game-based learning, child development and parenting. “It’s also the only way to really understand what life is like for kids and teens. But most importantly, this is how we move toward the kind of empathetic, supportive, and responsive parenting that’s needed to help young people thrive in a connected world.”
In the same March study, 65% of teens said they experienced having their devices taken away or wi-fi turned off by their parents to combat online usage. The vast majority (75%) of teens surveyed identified a range of emotions: anger, betrayal, depression, and even hopelessness. As parents become more lenient about screen time during COVID-19, additional research is needed to understand how it’s impacting family life and teens’ emotional well-being.
“This unique period has forced parents to get more engaged in their teens’ online lives, as well as become more digitally savvy, creating a dialogue with their kids that rarely existed before,” added Higgins. “This is a very important trend that we hope continues in the post-coronavirus world because kids and teens’ online connections and play have proved necessary for them to thrive during self-isolation. We believe that in the future they will simply be an essential and integral part of raising resilient and savvy online citizens.”
As part of its Digital Civility Initiative Roblox conducted a survey of 2,926 teens ages 13-18 via Reach3 Insights to gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on their lives, screen time use, and relationships with parents and friends, as well as behavior on the Roblox platform specifically (see full data here). Respondents for this survey conducted May 8-11, 2020 were recruited from the global community of @Roblox Twitter followers where they were asked to share some of their experiences related to COVID-19, and those who opted in took a five-minute conversational survey via ChatLab.
Roblox’s mission is to bring the world together through play. Every month, more than 120 million people around the world have fun with friends as they explore millions of immersive digital experiences. All of these experiences are built by the Roblox community, made up of over two million creators. We believe in building a safe, civil, and diverse community—one that inspires and fosters creativity and positive relationships between people around the world. For more information, please visit corp.roblox.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Irina Efremova/ Roblox Corporation
The Hatch Agency
* Digital Civility Survey of 4,499 teens ages 13-19 conducted in March 20-23, 2020. Commissioned by Roblox to Reach3 Insights, the survey was posted on the @Roblox account on Twitter and followers who opted in took a 5-minute conversational survey via ChatLab.