African American female teen playing Esports on a computer. With a caucasian teen male standing next to the female coaching her how to play.

There’s no question that teens love almost anything related to video games, from Mario Kart to Fortnite, our teens can’t get enough; but what is Esports, and is it good for them? The short answer is yes, but this blog will go more in-depth to explain what Esports is and why you should get your child involved.

When we think about sports football, basketball, swimming, and soccer coming to mind, however, there is a new type of competitive sport becoming ever more popular each and every day, electronic sports, otherwise known as Esports. Esports, similarly to traditional sports, is defined as being the competitive play of various video games in an organized format in which players compete for a specific goal such as winning a title or a prize.  This can encompass all sorts of different styles of play such as professional games, non-organized competitive gaming, or even casual play with friends. Esports can also be played in many different formats such as one-on-one in games like Street Fighter or NBA2k, or in teams for games like Rocket League and League of Legends. These games are often streamed online or hosted at arenas in-person to hundreds of thousands or even millions of viewers, with the professional games bring in prize pools of millions of US dollars.

There are many benefits for getting your child engaged in Esports ranging from increased cognitive skills such as memory, and hand-eye coordination; to be less likely to develop symptoms of depression later in life, and stronger stress management skills. Like anyone who plays or watches video games can attest, a lot is happening on the screen at any given time. The player learns to adapt to information rapidly and gradually over time and speeds up information processing skills which can easily carry over to homework, future careers, and daily problem-solving tasks. This doesn’t mean that your child should play video games all day, but research has shown that students who play at least one hour of video games a day have higher concentration and comprehension skills than non-gamer peers.

Aside from the cognitive and developmental benefits, Esports can also provide an amazing opportunity for youth to participate and engage with their peers in brand new ways that highlight teamwork and collaboration. A common stereotype that is often held about individuals who play video games regularly is that they’re shy or lack motivation, however, those assumptions are simply not true. Research shows individuals who participate in Esports regularly form closer relationships with their peers, perform better academically, and are more likely to work well in groups due to the collaborative nature of competitive gaming. The drive to constantly improve and how easy it is to see skill improvement over time in gaming constantly pushes players forward and motivates them to practice all while having fun.

Another amazing thing about Esports is that players are learning without even noticing. Because of the rapid growth of Esports, they have become a fantastic opportunity for scholarships and career opportunities. To put some numbers into perspective, in 2018 there were an estimated 25.7 million Esport viewers in the United States, that number is projected to rise to over 46 million just in the United States by 2023. The United States alone has around 8000 professional players for Esports compared to the roughly 2000 players in the NFL. This means that you’re much more likely to get a professional career as an Esports gamer than any other sport by a large margin. Additionally, there are many other fields that someone who has an interest in Esports can go into such as game design, shout casting, coaching, social media, graphic design, event planning, or other opportunities in live streaming and other gaming content creation. And those are just a few of the examples in Esports, there are still many more being created every day due to the size and growth of Esports internationally. There are also many different scholarship opportunities available to make your child’s future goals a reality with more than 30 different United States colleges and universities offering various scholarships to gamers who are looking to pursue college.

Esports provides a great sense of accomplishment for its participants and lets them be part of an amazing and ever-growing community. With all of these benefits, there’s no doubt that anyone who starts playing can get something out of it. So why not get your child involved in Esports today! Learn more about Esports at the Y get engaged in our local and national Esports leagues.