Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Barnardos Launches Online Gaming Report with Nearly One in Five Children saying they found it difficult to stop playing video games

  • Barnardos Online Safety Programme surveyed 700 children, in 3rd- 6th class, about their online gaming experiences
  • Almost one in five (18%) of children who completed the survey said they always or often found it difficult to stop playing video games
  • Half (50%) of children responding to the survey stated they have seen others being cyberbullied/sent mean messages, one in six (17%) seeing it always or often
  • Children recommend gaming companies should review and block people more quickly when they are being abusive in games
  • Children said that gaming was fun allowing them to connect with their peers

27 SEPT 2023: Barnardos Online Safety Programme engaged with over 700 children from 3rd to 6th class, about the pros and cons of online gaming. Results show that while online gaming is a positive part of children’s lives, there is also a real need to improve safety functions.

The survey was undertaken as a part of the Barnardos Online Safety Programme to help inform its work with children, parents and teachers. This September marks the final year of a five-year partnership between and Barnardos to deliver online safety workshops across the country reaching over 79,000 children to date. The focus groups and survey results indicate that there are both benefits and potential harms in children playing games online.

“Makes make me feel happy & when I have a good game, I have a good day”

Boy, 10
  1. Children indicated that gaming was fun and that when they played, it allowed them to connect and keep in touch with existing friends as well as make new ones.
  2. Nearly one in five (18%) of children who completed the survey said they always or often found it difficult to stop playing video games.
  3. One in seven (14%) children said that they often or always do not get enough sleep because they were staying up late gaming.
    “I like gaming because it’s fun, it can be exciting and can be relaxing” –Girl, 8
  4. Children described having a wide range of physical effects such as headaches, sore eyes and ears and general tiredness. Almost one quarter (24%) of children surveyed said that their mood always or often changes after playing video games.

“Playing too long you can get headaches & stomach aches”

Boy, 10
  1. Children discussed the problem of unmoderated chat and message functions. Half (50%) of children responding to the survey stated they have seen other children being cyberbullied or sent mean messages, one in six (17%) seeing it always or often.

“It’s good because I’ve friends the other side of the world and it’s nice to connect with them.”

Girl, 12
  1. More than one in three children (35%) said that when they play games online they play with others they do not know or have never met. Over one in five (21%) said they have often or always been asked a personal question by someone they don’t know. Children shared their awareness of the risks of adults posing as children in games.

“And then people might send you mean words and so you might get strange feelings or bad comments”

Girl, 11

Barnardos CEO Suzanne Connolly said: “Children have told us that they enjoy online gaming as well as being aware of the some of the risks. The children we spoke to are self-aware when it comes to the online gaming world, and offered insightful and practical recommendations to make online gaming safer. It’s important for adults with the power to make changes to listen to what children are telling us. It’s also important that parents and children have an open dialogue about gaming online and online safety more generally. It’s also clear that some children want their parents to help them manage their amount of time they spend online.’

  • Barnardos recommends the following actions should be taken based on what children have said:
  • Gaming companies should act quickly in blocking those sending abusive messages and the reporting process should be more straightforward
  • Chat functions in games marketed to children should ensure that the content is appropriate e.g. chat moderation, limiting access to friends only, limiting content possibilities to a range of choices, etc.
  • Online games directed at children should have no options for in game purchases
  • All adults need to recognise gaming can be a positive part of children’s lives while also recognising their role in managing some of the risks or potential harms to children

Ryan Meade, Google Public Policy and Government Relations Manager said: “We are delighted to support Barnardos online safety programme now in its fourth year. Google and Barnardos have a shared goal to empower young people to be safe explorers of our digital world, and by working together we can reach more children, parents and teachers to support better internet education in Irish schools.”

For more information on the Online Safety Programme (OSP) or to see how your school can book, please see or email [email protected]

Note to editor:
About the Survey –

  • The Online Safety Survey took place between April and May 2023, To view the full report – please click here
  • Learn more about Barnardos Online Safety Programme:

About Barnardos

Barnardos’ mission is to deliver services and work with families, communities, and our partners to transform the lives of vulnerable children who are affected by adverse childhood experiences. Because childhood lasts a lifetime  

Skip to content