Video Games as Coping Skills
I’m willing to bet that header confused a decent amount of people. After all, the majority of therapists I know still subscribe to the notion that Video Games are the root of all that is wrong with our modern day society. Violence? It must be Grand Theft Auto. Low grades? It must be video game addiction. Obesity? If only kids would go outside and throw a ball instead of playing NFL Madden.
Organizations like the WHO were quick to change their tune at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Video Games went from a thing to be concerned about to something that could foster meaningful social connections during a time where socialization had to be done from a distance.
Video games can be a great way to socialize with friends. Two of the most popular games this year centered around playing with friends. From Animal Crossing New Horizons where you could show off your design expertise or fishing abilities to Among Us where your friends try to kill you and you don’t know who you can trust (I feel like that escalated quickly).
People play games for a variety of reasons. Some just like to have something to kill time while they are waiting in line (or going to the bathroom). Some like taking their frustrations out on something that has no effect on the real people around them. Some like feeling like they are living a different life. Whatever the reason, video games can be a positive coping skill.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, ‘But Cassidy, as a therapist you should know that games are time sinks that suck kids in and keep them from doing productive things like homework.’
To that I would have to say, ‘sure, sometimes.’
Video games are not a perfect coping skill, but nothing is. The secret to any coping skill is timing/moderation. Lot’s of things can be a less than perfect coping skill. Even things that are pretty much universally agreed upon can be overdone. Take exercise for example, it is possible to exercise too much and injure oneself.
It’s possible to both play games and have a healthy life. It’s not always an easy balance to hit. I know I have had times in my life where I played games when I could have been doing something else. Balance is something I will continue to work on.
There are benefits to playing games beyond just the fact that they are fun to play. Games have been shown to improve hand-eye coordination. Games can improve problem solving. Educators can even use games to help teach kids in a way that kids enjoy.
My point being, games are here to stay. Games can be a positive coping skill. Oftentimes kids just need help learning how to manage their time.
Authored by Cassidy Russell LMFT
Cassidy Russell a proud host of Therapy for Nerds and has a private practice with the focus on utilizing pop culture to help teens.