New Study Finds Most Americans Believe Video Games Have Negative Impact on Teens and Tweens

American Bible Society Looks to Leverage Technology to Offer Positive Content 

According to the results of a survey released today by American Bible Society, a majority of Americans believes video games have a negative impact on teens and tweens—yet video game play remains popular in America. A report released earlier this year indicated that Americans spent $23.5 billion on the video game industry. Additionally, 63 percent of U.S. households are home to at least one person who plays video games three hours or more per week.

The survey was conducted online in June by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 American adults age 18 and older on behalf of American Bible Society. The survey found that 70 percent believe video games have a negative impact on teens and tweens, with 20 percent indicating that the impact is very negative.

In addition to these general findings, the research looked at a specific segment of the larger American population: Christian adults.

As an organization, American Bible Society has been exploring the potential of video gaming formats to help people—particularly young people—encounter the Bible. The Harris Poll research helped the 200-year-old ministry confirm the need for additional tools parents can use to help them introduce their children to the Bible.

Among Christian adults, forty percent indicated that they find it difficult to teach children about the Bible these days. More than half said they wish their kids read the Bible more often and would use a tool to help them understand the Bible (52 percent and 54 percent, respectively).

The announcement of this new research follows the recent release of The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance—a web-based gaming platform from Scarlet City Studios, developed in collaboration with American Bible Society, that delivers Bible content to teens and pre-teens within a digital, allegorical world where gamers can explore the grand themes and stories of Scripture.

“Americans who are not regularly playing video games may not recognize the power of this medium,” said Arthur Satterwhite, senior manager for National Movements Mobilization at American Bible Society. “For those who regularly engage in this type of play, games are often viewed as an outlet or safe place and can even be educational, helping young people draw new parallels via experiential learning within an immersive environment. American Bible Society has been leveraging the technology of the day to deliver Bible resources to people for the last 200 years—in this case, via a one-of-a-kind video game experience. We were thrilled to consult with Scarlet City Studios to support the development of The Aetherlight.

American Bible Society’s delivery of Bible access has continually evolved. From the Pony Express and the first braille Bible to the digital resources of the 21st century, changes in culture have not slowed the innovation of Bible access. In this same tradition, The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance is the first of its kind and aims to help young people see their story in the context of God’s story, via a world grounded in the biblical narrative.

“Since The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance was released in May, thousands of families have engaged with it as a tool to connect with Scripture,” said Tim Cleary, Scarlet City Studios’ world builder. “We are excited about continuing to unveil new content to players and helping families and their tweens understand the life-changing message of the Bible through their experiences within the game, while also engaging those outside of the church context with the ‘greatest story ever told,’ told for gamers.”

An infographic with key findings is available for download here.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of American Bible Society from June 8 to 10, 2016, among 2,025 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Katie Rouse at 770.813.0000.

About American Bible Society

Since 1816, American Bible Society has worked to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation’s first and most enduring ministries, today’s American Bible Society provides resources across a variety of platforms enabling first-time readers and seasoned theologians alike to engage with the best-selling book of all time. For more information, visit American.Bible.

About Scarlet City Studios

Scarlet City Studios was established in 2012 with the sole intention of bridging the cultural, historical and pedagogical gap between the contemporary world of pre-teens and the world of the Bible by advancing biblical engagement through interactive media, learning frameworks and creative transmedia products. Scarlet City's unique framework is based on the principles of faith, hope and love…telling great stories, nurturing genuine innovation and fostering real encounters.