Listen to podcasts; watch series and movies on demand; play video games online in a group; watch videos of 'influencers'; listen to streaming music, etc. In this ecosystem, content creators, 'influencers', have become stars that young people want to look like. One in three young Spaniards between the ages of 15 and 29 states that they would like to dedicate themselves to it and one in ten declares that they are trying to do so, as reflected in the Consume, create, play research. Panoramic view of digital youth leisure carried out by the Reina Sofía Center on Adolescence and Youth of the FAD Foundation, for which they have interviewed 1,200 young people online [descargar aquí en PDF]. The confidence level of the survey is 95.5% and the error for the global data is ±2.8%.
The reality behind the influencer dream: moonlighting, ultra connection and anxiety
This youth leisure ecosystem is possible because they have the means to do so. In fact, more than 70% of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 have at least four different devices through which to consume digital entertainment: smartphone, laptop, smart TV, game console, tablet, etc. And the vast majority (79.9%) use them for recreational purposes on a daily basis. In other words, they have integrated technology into their daily lives not only to communicate or to get information –the most widespread uses–, but also to have fun, both alone and in a group.
They make a varied and diverse consumption that accompanies them in their day to day, and they invest in this type of leisure activities linked to digital technologies an average of 6.95 hours a day. The most frequent activities are related to music; with audiovisual content (videos, movies, series, etc.); and with social networks, especially Instagram (19-29 years old) and TikTok (15-18 years old). Video games are also very frequent, but in this case much more among them than among them.
Apart from time, they also invest money. Three out of four young people have subscriptions to some type of paid audiovisual content, although half share the subscription with other people (54%). 23.8% have a paid subscription to content from creators or 'influencers'. 21.7% pay a subscription for online video games and 17.8% subscribe to paid video game platforms.
Video games at the center of digital youth entertainment
Video games have established themselves as a fundamental dimension of youth entertainment. Almost 9 out of 10 young people are gamers (86.8%) – they play video games – and 37.4% play games daily. In addition, a vast majority (85.9%) consume some type of gaming content (reviews, gameplays, streaming, etc.).
Even so, video games continue to be a fairly masculinized sector: among young men, 95.4% play video games, while among women, female gamers reach 78.4%. More than half of them play or consume video content daily, compared to only 1 in 5 girls.
With regard to recreational modalities, playing single-player video games stands out (38.4% daily), but it is also common to play online with unknown people (29.3% daily), play with friends on the Internet ( 27% daily) or, to a lesser extent, playing with friends in person (17.4% daily).
47.9% of girls think that video games are designed for boys and 54.1% that they have sexist content
Again, all modalities are more frequent among men. Even so, comparatively, among women, single-player video games stand out compared to social games. By age, single player games stand out particularly between 25 and 29 years old.
The most frequent way of playing is through the smartphone (77.8%), but also on a video console (67.8%) and PC (67.4%). Nine out of ten young gamers spend money on video game-related products or services. 88.3% buy video games to a greater or lesser extent and one in four buy video games monthly (24.5%).
In general, there is a positive view of video games among young people, although there is no general consensus and a more negative view is noted among girls and a more positive view among boys. The positive view of the educational value of videogames stands out: 52% affirm that playing videogames helps to develop personal and professional skills and to learn things, in addition to 41.3% who think that videogames should be used in the classroom, as a tool Learning.
As negative aspects, the business model is mostly criticized: 47.9% of young people reject microtransactions within games, which means that 44.8% think that games can generate addiction. Sexism in video games and the ideological values they convey are also criticized, but this critical perception is much more common among women: 47.9% of them think that games are designed for boys and 54.1% that They have sexist content.
'Influencers' and content creators, the stars of young digital entertainment
Virtually all young people actively follow people who create online content or 'influencers', especially through Instagram (81.6%), along with YouTube (58.9%) and TikTok (55.6%), the latter in the younger age groups (15-19 years). Girls follow 'influencers' to a greater extent than boys (77.4% of them and 72.2% of them).
The 'influencers' or content creators they follow deal with various topics, but the favorites are music (53.6%), video games (47.8%) and humor (44.6%). In youth preferences in this area, we find important gender differences: women seek more themes of music, cinema, fashion or travel. On the other hand, men look for content on video games, sports, science and technology.
31.2% make some type of expense aimed at creators of content (subscriptions, donations). Spending is more common among boys than among girls (39.4% of them and 23.2% of them). One in four usually comment on chats, videos or publications and 13.9% participate in online forums or communities linked to content creators.
In general, according to the research, among young people there is a generalized positive view of the content creation profession, in which it is highlighted that it is an ideal channel to create content committed to social causes or to raise awareness (60.7%), that it has a great future (59.7%) or that it allows creativity to be developed with more freedom than in traditional media (56.2%). There is also a significant percentage of young people who consider that it is a profession that is not valued socially (50.3%) and that it is difficult to make a living from it (48.8%).
Risks of youth digital leisure
Digital youth leisure is a field in constant movement and evolution that is not exempt from some risks and problems that must be observed and monitored. One of the first risks observed in the study is inequality, since among young people with more unfavorable socioeconomic positions there are fewer young people who enjoy digital leisure on a daily basis, 62.3% in young people with severe material deprivation, compared to 89% in young people without material deficiencies.
Especially problematic is the high lack of knowledge about spending on subscriptions to paid content, donations and microtransactions detected among the most vulnerable youth groups. From the psychosocial point of view, some experiences of bullying, harassment and violation of privacy are pointed out, both in content creation practices and in online video games. These negative experiences are more frequent among girls, who are more likely to hide their identity online, although boys receive more insults playing online.
52% say that playing video games helps develop personal and professional skills and learn things
Another aspect to take into account is the excessive, or even compulsive, consumption that some young people point out in their answers and especially among those who have greater material deficiencies. In this group (greater material shortages, lower educational level and/or unemployed) the daily consumption time is up to one hour higher than the average.
As for the content, young people point to the excessive sexualization of said content as the main risks of this digital entertainment: one in three thinks that the content is highly sexualized and one in five has uploaded it (or has considered it) erotic or sexual content to the network to get followers or economic benefits. This practice is more common among young people with greater material deprivation.
Besides, they indicate a certain loss of intimacy. Women feel more exposed online and are more likely to avoid uploading content online to protect their privacy or from harassment. They are the ones who have blocked people to a greater extent for having received harassment.
In the specific section of video games, young people point to a clear risk of masculinization and sexism in the content –as we have previously pointed out– together with other aspects such as the fact that 34.2% think that they can promote violence and other values negatives; and 33.4% affirm that they can harm your social life and encourage isolation.