The Brief: Though video games often receive a bad rep for violent and explicit content, recent studies have shown that gaming can actually be a method for relieving stress.
Perhaps one of the most controversial topics surrounding Gen-Zers today is their obsession with/borderline addiction to video games.
For years, parental groups have called into the question the violent and explicit nature of games like Mortal Kombat and Fallout, and with several recent Fortnite scandals and lawsuits, the most recent accusing the game creators of exploiting minor-aged players by “inducing them to purchase in-game loot boxes,” it’s no wonder parents and youth advocates have their concerns.
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Video games are often used as a convenient scapegoat for many of the physical, mental, and emotional health issues plaguing today’s youth. The majority of the research related to video games comes with the “presumption that games are stressful or even psychologically harmful”, especially for teens.
However, after significant scrutiny, researchers have found some surprising results – there’s a direct correlation between video game play and stress relief.
Routine & Regularity
Any psychologist would tell you that creating and keeping a regular routine can improve overall health, well-being, and productivity. Consistent routines are even more important for child development, as they provide a sense of comfort and security. By adding gameplay to their routine, players can take their minds off daily stressors as well as have some fun.
A recent article form Very Well Mind listed “Play Games” as one of seventy potential ways to relieve daily stress, alongside common stress-relievers like taking a walk, journaling, and listening to music. It’s clear that people enjoy playing games enough to use them regularly.
Healthy Competition & Goal Setting
One of the biggest criticisms of the video gaming industry is the sense of competition games create between young players and their peers, especially as it relates to stress. However, most gamers report that playing video games – even violent games – is a way to relieve stress and enjoy playing with friends. More than that, players are able to challenge themselves and set goals, such as reaching the next level in a game or purchasing the latest Skins.
It’s a relatable teaching tool for setting “SMART” goals.
— Producer(BTW)🕹📊 (@ProducerBTW) March 1, 2019
Cooperative Game Play
As with most hobbies, there is a clear community that exists for video game players. Live-streaming technology and platforms like Twitch have allowed thousands of people at once to tune-in to watch their favorite streamers, such as Ninja, play video games.
Games with a strong social component (cooperative games) are especially beneficial as stress-relief tools. One recent study examined players as they played both competitive and cooperative games. As predicted, there was a clear difference in stress levels after playing, and those who played cooperatively experienced a greater decrease in stress levels than those playing competitively, though the difference was slight.
— MrBlair (@mrblairgaming) March 1, 2019
Game streaming platforms tend to function like digital chat rooms. Not only can players enjoy the game and compete with their friends, but they can also meet fellow players from all over the world, who share their passion for games.
Regulating Game Time & Content
Video games can provide teens with a safe and fun outlet for developing their emotional awareness and coping skills.
That being said, it’s important for parents to create a dialogue with their children regarding the amount of time spent playing games and to carefully monitor the type of content their children are consuming.