Socialising, finding stress relief and finding ways to pass the time are increasingly being done in the virtual world - with an average time of 85 minutes a day spent "gaming".

A recent study of more than 2000 Kiwis revealed that 98 per cent of New Zealand families had a device and eight out of 10 owned multiple game devices.

The study, conducted by Bond University and the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, found 67 per cent of Kiwis played video games, 44 per cent of over-65s play and the average player age is 34.

Lead author and professor of communication and media at Bond University, Queensland, Dr Jeff Brand, said the findings showed "interactive games have become a huge part of our culture and while the key reasons remain playing for fun and to pass time, games increasingly serve other uses".


"New Zealanders are playing for social connectedness, whether that be family or friends. They're playing to reduce stress, to be challenged, to learn, to keep the mind active, or for physical and mental-health benefits."

Brand said games had also become more frequently utilised in schools with more than half, 59 per cent, stating children had used video games as part of their school curriculum - compared with 38 per cent in the 2016 report.

Meanwhile, seven out of 10 believed using gaming could be an effective way of teaching students.

"These games are used to increase engagement, student motivation, promote critical thinking and problem-solving across all subject areas including maths, science and reading."

The study is the fifth done since 2009 and looks at the demographics of Kiwis who play games and their habits, behaviours and attitudes.

The impact of this increased screen time is not always seen so positively - with concerns late last year that some children were starting school without the ability to speak in sentences.

An investigation was sparked to ask officials to look into the apparent trend with some blaming more time spent in front of a screen as the problem.

However Professor Stuart McNaughton, director of the Woolf Fisher Research Centre at the University of Auckland's Faculty of Education, said technology wasn't always to blame.

He said a range of factors could affect what impact technology had - including whether screen time was appropriate or excessive and what else the child could be doing to learn.