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Nine out of 10 tweens play online games, research shows

August 20, 2010 |  6:38 pm

Connor McPherson plays Free Realms 

Parents who are unsettled by how much time their children spend playing games online may be comforted to know they're probably not alone.

Nine out of 10 kids ages 8 to 11 play games online, according to a report by M2 Research, a market research firm in Encinitas, Calif. That goes for boys (91%) as well as girls (93%).

Other findings of the study, which surveyed 5,000 children nationwide:

  • Social networks play a big role in looping kids into games. Facebook is the favorite website among boys ages 8 to 11 and girls ages 12 to 15.
  • Among portable handheld gaming, Nintendo dominates with its DualScreen consoles. Four out of 10 girls ages 12 to 15 say they play games on the DS. But Apple is also making inroads with its iPad, iPod and iPhone, especially among girls. One-third of girls ages 12 to 15 reported playing games on iPod Touch players; 16% play on iPhones and 6% play on iPads.
  • Sony's PlayStation Portable is preferred by boys -- 44% of teen boys reported playing PSP games, compared with just 18% of teen girls.
  • What are they playing? Girls gravitate to Nintendo's Mario games, with 20% choosing it as their favorite franchise. Teen boys like Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, with 36% picking it as their favorite game.

But as any parent knows, what's hot Monday can be out of favor by Tuesday. "Kids tend to play a wide variety of games, and their favorite games and gaming sites change often," M2 analyst Louise Curcio said.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Connor McPherson, 8, plays Free Realms, a game developed by Sony Online Entertainment. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times