Video games are increasingly popular with teenage girls, research shows, ranking in their top 10 hobbies just behind drawing and singing.
Competitive gaming – esports – is also gaining ground among girls, with growth in participation outpacing that of boys in the 13-15 age group.
The market research company Kids Insights interviewed more than 5,000 young people aged between four and 18 for its quarterly look at the leisure habits of Britain’s youth.
Despite the growing popularity of gaming among girls, there remains a large gender divide in how many children claim it as their favourite activity: for boys it is second only to football, with 14% of four- to 12-year-olds and 21% of 13- to 18-year-olds saying it was their favourite activity, compared to 3% of girls.
Instead, girls of all ages are more likely to list traditional activities such as reading, swimming and dancing as their favourite way to spend leisure time.
When it comes to engaging in esports, however, the gender divide is much less pronounced. Just over 10% of 13- to 15-year-olds of both genders say they take part in esports, and a similar proportion say they have attended live events, with more girls than boys having done so.
When it comes to watching esports on a screen, boys and girls have the same behaviour until they start secondary school, but by the age of 16 to 18 viewing rates rise to almost a third of boys, compared to 10% of girls.
Despite the phenomenal success of Fortnite, the year’s video game sensation, it has failed to capture an audience interested in it as a competitive activity, says Kids Insight. “Fortnite, the favourite video game of 16- to 18-year-old boys this quarter, has enjoyed phenomenal success; however, it has struggled to establish itself as an esports broadcaster in its first year.”
Video games are making new stars, as well. While YouTube celebrities such as PewDiePie, KSI and DanTDM have long shown up in the list of boys’ idols, InquistorMaster, a female YouTuber who makes videos about the game Roblox, has entered the top 10 for girls aged 10 to 12.