04 May How gaming can be good for you as a teenager
Harmless fun or harmful addiction?
Gaming is a fascinating subject and, in this blog, we’ll be exploring the chemicals that get us hooked but also how games can be of great benefit when enjoyed responsibly.
“Live a life that is well balanced; don’t do things in excess.” Daniel Smith
Video games have been around for a long time. Technology has certainly moved on since the first consoles and today, games are much more accessible. These days even babies know how to activate and switch on devices!
Still, there is a real difference in attitude between the generations. Older people often believe that gaming is a problem. They think that it causes antisocial and isolating behaviour. They are concerned about it being addictive.
We’re going to look at those things in more detail but how about turning it around for now and thinking about it, not as a problem, but as a great opportunity?
That’s not to say that gaming can’t lead to challenges and difficulties. When gaming results in gambling and addiction, then it is something that needs to be addressed.
“The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it.” Anonymous
Escape into a different world
Let me ask a question.
- What’s your favourite game right now?
- What games do you enjoy disappearing into for a bit of fun?
Maybe you enjoy games to pass the time on the bus or the train, if you’re waiting for somebody or you’re hanging around for an appointment. Does it help to switch off your brain and change your focus?
When is gaming a problem?
Games are designed to put you into a state of flow. Time disappears so you become laser focused on what you’re doing.
A game offers a challenge, stretching you a little bit and giving you lots of small wins and rewards. These little wins fire the reward centre in the brain, releasing a chemical called dopamine which makes you feel good.
It is this dopamine rush that can become highly addictive.
It’s easy to become engrossed. Time disappears and you’re constantly hooked on those ‘Oh so close!’ moments. It’s tempting you, compelling you to play just one more time, have just one more go.
Gaming sometimes costs more than time, with small amounts of money spent here and there soon adding up to a big amount.
You also need to choose the type of game you enjoy very carefully – to make sure they are both content and age appropriate.
In my coaching practice I’m definitely seeing an increase in the number of young people where gaming for fun has got a little bit out of control. So, if you are a parent reading this and you have concerns for your child then please do get in touch.
“A problem shared is a problem halved.” Proverb
Connecting with friends
On the other hand, gaming can be a great way to fit in with friends and peers. It allows you to have something in common, to speak the same language and be part of the conversation.
As long as that conversation is healthy and as long as the competition doesn’t lead to bullying, then it can help to strengthen friendships.
So often grown-ups think of gaming as being isolating or anti-social – but actually for young people, it’s a way of connecting and reaching out.
“I love those connections that make this big old world feel like a little village.” – Gina Bellman
What are the positives of gaming?
There are so many positives to gaming that we forget to talk about:
- Makes learning more fun
- Builds understanding, logic, reasoning, curiosity and flexibility of approach
- Develops problem solving skills – a great skill to have in real life
- Enhances co-ordination
So, to any adults reading, let’s stop criticising and let’s start joining in! Why not find some family focused games? Find a healthy balance between time in the game and time in the real world. Let’s match the number of hours in the game to number of hours spent doing sport or going for a walk.
Instead of always criticising or assuming the worst, let’s enjoy the reward of having amazing technology and balance it with the incredible activities that we can enjoy outside of tech too.
“The future rewards those who press on.” Barack Obama
Choose the life you want to lead
Everything in moderation as they say and keeping your human needs balanced is important.
Please do let us know what gaming experiences you’re involved in and what you feel about the time spent being involved – is it enough, too much, not enough?
Do connect with the community and share your thoughts or ask any questions, that’s where we’re all here.
Stay competitive, stay enthusiastic but also stay balanced.