Videogames tend to be seen as a negative and dangerous activity by most parents, who watch their children play for hours on end in front of a computer, smartphone, or television screen. They have always alarmed parents, many of whom have felt compelled to prohibit their children from using these tools. What if we told you that videogames are not dangerous, but may even help children to socialize? Of course, taking care not to use them excessively and inappropriately. If you don’t believe us, we’ll explain why in this post.
Videogames allow for socializing, creating new friendships, and connecting with friends and acquaintances, not just in our own country, but from all parts of the world. This is possible thanks to chat features in the games. Just connect, put on some headphones, and you’re in. It’s true that seeing our children in front of a screen, alone in a room seems strange to us. We don’t understand it and we’re not convinced of it all, but we must bear in mind that our children and teens were born into a digital world and, therefore, if it seems like a dangeous hobby to us, it’s absolutely normal to our kids. Very often they see in videogames a good opportunity to chat with old friends or classmates and, sometimes, to meet new people through different platforms that allow them to make friends online and create a great community. Many videogames also have the option to communicate with other players through a headset, which appeals greatly to young people. This option, in contrast, is of great concern to parents, many of whom forbid their children from playing these types of games. In fact, what we could and should do is explain to our kids that sometimes chatting with people they met on the Internet can be dangerous, so they should always be careful.
According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina (NCSU), York University (Toronto), and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, videogames complement real-life socialization and do not reduce or replace it as many believe. This study observed the behavior of thousands of players and then focused on the results of about 400 of them while playing different online role-playing games. The conclusion reached by the researchers was that this type of videogame allows for social interactions and, therefore, can be considered a useful means of socialization. However, this type of videogame is not the only one that allows for socialization; in fact, there are many others that help young people to create friendships, even lasting ones. This is the case for competitive or adventure games, which require the help of other players to pass various tests, including cooperative games that reward collaboration, teamwork, and communication between players to overcome obstacles. Cooperative games also offer the possibility of adding people we have enjoyed playing with or connecting with those we know in person to play together. Thus, they offer the opportunity to spend time and connect more with classmates, friends, and even create new friendships.
To support the thesis that videogames are a useful tool for socializing, there is a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, an institute based in Washington, D.C. (USA). The study delves into this topic, and the result is that, with the technology advances and the introduction of multiplayer and online games, the possibility of interacting and socializing while playing has increased; in fact, more than half of the players surveyed said that they had made new friends online. Therefore, as previously mentioned, videogames not only help to maintain and consolidate friendships that already exist, like those of classmates, for example, but they also help to create new ones. Kids and teens are no longer alone while playing videogames; they share their passion with other players and, sometimes, create true gamer communities, themed blogs, and livestream channels where those playing can interact with those following the games.
Videogames make it possible to create friendships even for those who find it more difficult to do personally. Imagine, for instance, a shy child or teenager who often struggles to initiate friendships. By playing videogames in their room and simply putting on headphones, they have the opportunity to meet other people without experiencing the initial shyness and embarrassment that can come with face-to-face interactions. A German study was conducted on this very topic. The researchers compared the online socializing habits of some people who were shy and others who were more social. The result of this study is very interesting because it states that people with fewer than average friends in real life are actually more inclined to make friends in online games.
Therefore, contrary to popular belief, videogames have their positive aspects, and we should not consider them to be something negative for our children, since, as we have seen in this article, if they are used in the right way, they are a great tool for consolidating existing friendships or creating new ones. This is possible thanks to the creation of new types of games, like adventure, competitive, and cooperative games.