For transparency: Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco used to work full-time for British Esports between September 2016 and February 2021, and currently does some freelance work for them, producing their weekly email newsletter.
Parents in the UK are warming to the benefits of esports in general, but aren’t yet convinced of the career possibilities for their children.
That’s according to new research from OnePoll, commissioned by Dell Technologies and Intel, which surveyed 1,500 UK parents with children who play esports and 500 financial decision makers in education such as headteachers, CIOs and department heads.
The results show that over two-thirds (69%) of UK parents believe esports allows their children to develop skills that they might not get through traditional education methods. Of those, over half (54%) say esports gave children more confidence, with teamwork (62%), problem solving (57%), and technological skills (55%) coming out as the top skills parents believe children can develop through esports.
And nearly half (48%) of parents say esports should be added to the school/college curriculum.
However, parents are less convinced about career prospects: less than a third (32%) would be happy for their child to have a career in esports. This may be due to a lack of overall awareness; the survey hints that many parents may be unaware of the breadth of career options within the esports industry.
Only a third (33%) know that esports offers a career path in social media management, for example. Over two-thirds (67%) of parents say that their lack of esports knowledge puts them at a disadvantage when discussing it with their children. These findings suggest that educating parents on the esports industry, particularly on its potential career pathways, could be needed to give them more confidence in it as a career choice.
The survey also found that over half of UK parents who think that esports doesn’t play a positive role in education believe that the content is not relevant or appropriate for education purposes, that it is a distraction from learning methods and that it will not provide children with real world experiences.
The report suggests teachers could run open school events for parents to take part in to generate better awareness and engagement of esports in education, and that with a better understanding of esports and gaming, parents can help children to build healthy gaming habits.
McLaren Racing, Pearson, the British Esports Association, MidKent College and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – which added esports to its programmes last year – also got involved in the research.
The British Esports Association partnered with the NSPCC to produce a parent/carer esports guide, which aims to help increase parents’ understanding of the space.
“It communicates the skills that children are developing, but it also talks about balance, moderation, and understanding what is appropriate and what is not appropriate,” said British Esports’ head of education Tom Dore. “But he also highlights the role of publishers and tech companies in supporting parents on this journey.”
Lindsey Eckhouse, director of licensing, ecommerce and esports at McLaren Racing, added: “People do become professional esports players, often at a pretty young age, but esports is more than just players. Just as our drivers can’t race without their team, esports players can’t play without theirs – that means publicists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, chefs.
“We must embrace more ways for children – of all abilities, needs and backgrounds – to learn, and those ways should reflect the future career landscape.”
Elsewhere, financial decision makers in schools are optimistic about the value esports brings to education. Nearly four out of five (79%) believe esports should be taught in schools, and of those, over half (52%) think that esports being taught in school would help increase grades in other subjects.
Of those less enthusiastic about adding esports to the curriculum, more than three in five (61%) cite a lack of evidence in its educational benefits.
Over half (55%) of the financial decision makers in education say that the equipment needed for an esports provision is too expensive for schools to consider. A similar number (53%) point to poor network connections at school or home as barriers to successfully implementing an esports programme.
The survey also indicates that a knowledge gap could be hindering progress, with over a third (38%) claiming they did not have the teachers qualified to teach esports (which is a specific criticism of the Staffordshire University esports degree), and two in five (41%) attributing a lack of knowledge among parents as a blocker to progress.
“Esports has seen an explosion in popularity in the past few years, but it’s still relatively early days for esports in education. Partnerships with industry and government will be key to addressing the barriers of cost and accessibility, said Brian Horsburgh, education sales director for Dell Technologies in the UK.
“Having parents and educators on board will also be critical to success – we need esports advocates at home and at school to realise its potential in boosting learner outcomes.”
In terms of esports’ inclusivity, parents and teachers are optimistic about this. Over two-thirds (70%) of parents state that esports promotes inclusivity amongst children at school/college, with half (50%) agreeing that esports allows for more diversity across its player base.
Dom is an award-winning writer and finalist of the Esports Journalist of the Year 2023 award. He graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Federation up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and offer esports consultancy and freelance services. Note: Dom still produces the British Esports newsletter on a freelance basis, so our coverage of British Esports is always kept simple – usually just covering the occasional press release – because of this conflict of interest.