For autistic young people, online gaming can be an important source of social connection, community and opportunity. Yet online spaces can come with risks and challenges.

To help neurodivergent young people safely benefit from online spaces and online gaming, it is important to:

  • Understand what risks and challenges are specific to neurodivergent children and young people.
  • Learn about the opportunities the connected world offers neurodivergent young people.
  • Educate parents and carers so they can support autistic young people when they use online spaces, such as online gaming.
  • Make online spaces more inclusive for young autistic gamers so they can enjoy digital communities safely, with their needs considered.

Project aims

Neurodiversity in Gaming aimed to learn more about autistic and other neurodivergent young people and online communities.

The project primarily worked with young autistic gamers aged 11-16 and their families. However, the survey was also open to young people who have ADHD.

Project aims included:

  • Understanding the opportunities and benefits of online gaming for autistic young people.
  • Identifying challenges and risks for online communities that are specific to autistic young people, and what can be done to manage these.
  • Producing resources with guidance for families and carers of young neurodivergent gamers so they can support them to enjoy online gaming and minimise potential harm.

What this project involves

Neurodiversity in Gaming explored topics within online gaming and how they specifically relate to autistic young people, including:

  • How online activity can affect an individual’s wider skills
  • Vulnerability and accessibility in online spaces
  • Understanding how gaming can affect someone’s social and emotional wellbeing, and how to manage this
  • Screen time and wellbeing
  • Safeguarding

A key part of the project was developing resources for gaming companies, parents and carers. The resources will help them support young autistic gamers using online spaces, and their parents.

Our role in the project

As a partner on this project, we participated in three key areas: shaping research, co-creating the outputs and amplifying the findings.

We contributed to this project by:

  • Advising on research to make it inclusive and meaningful to young autistic people, their families and carers.
  • Connecting the community and research partners, ensuring a wide range of responses to Neurodiversity in Gaming surveys.
  • Collaborating on creating resources for parents and carers.
  • Promoting the project findings and helping reach more young autistic people and their families.

Research findings

From the perspective of neurodivergent young people, the benefits of gaming include the following:

  • Helping them relax.
  • Developing skills, or learning. This includes being creative, problem-solving, and developing skills applicable to other areas of life.
  • Social support. Gaming helps people feel part of a community and accepted. It also helps them find other people with similar interests.
  • Improved communication, which is easier online than offline.

The challenges neurodivergent young people face are:

  • Cyber-bullying
  • Feeling addicted to gaming
  • Managing their other life demands

For parents, the benefits of their child taking part in online gaming are:

  • Improved communication
  • Skills development

The challenges for parents were:

  • Concerns for online safety. These concerns include things like privacy settings, screen time management, bullying and moderation, and where to get assistance.
  • Negative impacts on behaviour, such as aggression.
  • Lack of understanding and support of gaming interests.


Internet Matters has created a new suite of resources aimed at neurodivergent young people and their parents. These include three resources on the themes identified by neurodivergent young people as most important: get parents involved in your online life, online safety tips for gaming and how to report concerns on Roblox.

Roblox will investigate ways to improve games' sensory features and build on the benefits of communication.

Read the full Neurodiversity in Gaming report.