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October 2020
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Move Over, Kid

Average Video Gamer in America Is 32 Years Old, According to CDC

According to the CDC, the average age of a video gamer in America is 32 years old!

According to the CDC, the average age of a video gamer in America is 32 years old!

Here’s a question:  If I were to ask you what the average age is for people who play video games on a regular basis, what age would you guess?

Twelve years old?  19 years old?  Maybe even 25 years old?

Try 35 years old!

In a word, yikes!

In my youth – the days where having the latest gaming system was on the list of 12 and 13-year-olds, not 30somethings – video gaming was the kid’s domain.  Moms prepared dinner and took care of the kids, dads labored in the fields or toiled in the office, and the kids played in the great outdoors, occasionally playing Nintendo games indoors when it rained.

Today, if the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s study is to be taken at face value, the average Mom and Dad have replaced the average kid at the joystick controls.

After performing a study of approximately 500 people in the Seattle, Wash. area (apparently the part of the country where internet traffic is highest) 45 percent of those polled said they played video games regularly.  What’s more, the average age of those gamers was 35 (the 500 participants polled were between the ages of 19 and 90).

Now, it would be one thing if more video gaming translated into healthier adults, be it mental health, physical health or emotional health.  But that’s not how the results turned out.  Truth be told, how often someone played video games translated into poorer health in all three health aspects.

For instance, women who played video games regularly were more depressed than female non-gamers.  Among men, the gamers had a higher BMI on average than male non-gamers.  And for both men and women, gamers were more likely to rely on the internet for what the study calls “social support” than male and female non-gamers.

Writing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study’s lead author said, “The data illustrate the need for further research among adults to clarify how to use digital opportunities more effectively to promote health and prevent disease.”

As I wrote in a previous Mangano Minute posting, the video gaming industry recognizes the health concerns associated with gaming. Nintendo, for example, has tried to mix in physical activity through a program that allows people to play Nintendo and exercise all at the same time (a program that’s sold separately called Wii Fit).  And the joystick that comes with the Nintendo Wii requires actual movement, rather than simply pressing buttons.  So that’s one clear way technology is “more effectively promoting health.”

But as I said at the time, not even a Wii Fit replaces exercise in the great outdoors.

As with any study, this one may not be truly representative of the country at large.  But given the boom in video game sales since I was young, not to mention the boom in obesity levels in the country (there are more obese Americans than there are overweight Americans, according to the National Health Center for Statistics), this is probably an entirely accurate representation of where Americans stand today.  Or should I say “sit” today?


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