There’s no denying that video games are an enjoyable and relaxing pastime, but they also come with some serious drawbacks. When played excessively, video game playing may quickly become a negative behavior associated with increased irritation, dependency, and social withdrawal when not properly managed. So, how should one go safely down this slope? Can the positive effects of gaming on mental health be maximized while the negative effects are minimized?
Following these guidelines can help ensure that your gaming time is productive for your mental, emotional, and social health.
Taking part in activities that we value or find rewarding is good for our mental health. It’s fantastic if you have pleasure in cultivating land. It’s also great if you like explosions. Taking time out to play a game is a great way to reconnect with yourself, but not everyone will find the same satisfaction in the same game or the same type of games. Do what makes you happy, as my mother constantly advises.
To everyone’s benefit, there is no one game or category of games. It’s not unlike a doctor prescribing medication when considering the potential for video games to improve mental health. You need to learn as much as possible about the person, including their hobbies, talents, and past.
The positive effects of gaming on the brain can be compared to the strengthening effects of lifting mental weights. Would you like to improve your ability to think creatively when faced with a challenge? Do something different, like a puzzle game. Have you been feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of the world lately? In order to relax and feel in charge, try playing a simulation game like The Sims.
There are games that employ a design approach known as “dark design patterns,” which targets weaknesses in how players process and react to information, others, and their own feelings. Celia Hodent’s contributions in this field are outstanding. The easiest piece of advice I can provide gamers is to make sure they are still having fun while playing. When looking in from the outside, it might be difficult to distinguish between highly engaged and problematic gaming.
However, one of the main distinctions is that participation causes us to experience “The Good Feels,” such as pride in a job well done or calmness after a stressful day. An indication of a problem is when playing the game becomes a chore, a chore grind, or a grind to the point that you fear horrible things will happen if you don’t log in (e.g., progress lost, missing an opportunity, letting others down). Games can be difficult at times, and there may be moments of grind or drudgery, but if such moments make up the vast majority of your time spent with the game, you may want to reconsider your approach.
In terms of how much time should be spent playing video games, there is no universal rule. A new research from the Royal Society essentially concludes that leisure time is meaningless. To a greater extent than how long you play, it is why you play.
Do you play for the sake of entertainment, social interaction, world saving, or skill demonstration? Or do you play because you have to, like when you’re leveling up or when your raid team needs you? When we play, we satisfy our desire for pleasure, excitement, relaxation, and social connection. We need to reconsider our relationship with the game if we play only because we believe we have to.
Through my time spent gaming online, I have met some very incredible people. Some of them I’ve met in person at conventions and other events, while others I’ve only heard their voices. Despite what certain headlines may have you believe, friends made online are “genuine” friends. However, when people play video games online in groups, they typically stick to playing with people they already know. It’s like a club, in a way. And just like in a club, what matters most is the community and the way people treat one another, rather than the activity or game itself.
Some online gaming groups, for instance, are quite poisonous while others are refreshingly positive. If you’re concerned about your mental health, it’s important to evaluate the game’s community’s vibe and culture and take precautions if necessary. As an example, I enjoy playing Halo’s online multiplayer mode very much. While playing, though, I only communicate with my buddies in a party chat (private voice chat), and I avoid talking to “randoms” on either team. Though it’s inconvenient to have to take these precautions, doing so keeps me safe from harassment or abuse while still letting me spend time with my pals.
While video games shouldn’t be used in place of professional help, they may be a useful adjunct therapy for those dealing with mental health concerns. People often turn to games for solace when they’re dealing with emotional or mental health issues, such as despair and anxiety. A large number of gamers have shared their own experiences of how video games have benefited them in some way, whether by providing a source of enjoyment, a social outlet, or a sense of mastery over one’s own life.
The types of games that have these effects vary greatly from person to person. Some depressed persons like to play games that put them in an other reality, one where they are safe from their condition. Some people may find it therapeutic to play games with depression-related content or themes since it reassures them that they are not alone in their struggle. In a similar vein, those with anxiety might stay away from horror games (like me!) but others without the condition might love them since they allow them to experience a controlled form of fear.
Again and again, studies on violent video games have revealed no correlation between playing these games and actual acts of violence. That person’s violent tendencies will be reflected in their real life behavior has nothing to do with how often they play violent video games. However, a game’s suitability for a certain age group is important to consider. I don’t allow my 6-year-old son play Call of Duty, not because I’m afraid that exposing him to a violent game would make him aggressive, but because the game’s material is inappropriate for his age group.
I also don’t allow my 6-year-old son watch TV shows or movies with strong language or violent content. No media is immune to the harmful effects of exposing a child to information that is not age- or development-appropriate. If a parent believes their kid isn’t ready to play a specific sort of game, that’s a perfect time for parent and child to sit down and have a chat about gaming, maturity, and safety.”
5 TIPS IN USING GAMING TO MAINTAIN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
1. Check that you’re enjoying yourself thoroughly! When I was actively engaged in competitive gaming, I eventually became exhausted, burned out, and unenthusiastic about playing anymore. Take a step back and rethink your gaming goals if you’re not receiving what you want out of it (such as relaxation, socializing, or a sense of success).
2. Maintain a healthy play routine. I’m always up for testing out a new game or genre. There is a vast and exciting world of gaming out there, from video games to board games to card games to role-playing games, and beyond.
3. A parent should interact with their child through play. My group uses Pokémon Go as an excuse to go out of the home and socialize. It’s a fun way for my family of four to spend time together, and it teaches my 6-year-old valuable life lessons like perseverance (it’s OK, child, try again! ), teamwork, and creativity as he plays Sonic and Mario and other games he can enjoy.
4. It’s acceptable to have preferences that are unpopular with others. We have a problem with gatekeeping in gaming because of words like “casual gamer” and “hardcore gamer,” which imply that some games aren’t “real” games. Let the naysayers be nay, and play what you like.
5. You should schedule some playtime into your busy schedule. The demand for fun and entertainment does not disappear with age. Your value is not proportional to your output, so give yourself permission to waste time being silly and having fun.