Online Video Games, Social Interaction, and Depression

Online video games are becoming more popular as time goes by. With the advent of broadband Internet in virtually all homes in North America, as well as in Europe and Asia, online video games have expanded from a small niche hobby to a massive multi-million dollar industry. In the last decade alone, online video games have reached nearly $60 billion dollars in revenue. Now that’s impressive! But how did this phenomenon happen?

There are many different contributing factors. One of the most important, if not the most important factor, are the expansion of mediated social spaces such as online video games. Before the advent of the World Wide Web, people spent their leisure time interacting with each other via real life social venues like clubs, community organizations, vocational schools, sports teams, church congregations, and so on. These social venues provided a safe place for people to get to know one another and to share ideas and opinions, which were invaluable in terms of social progress and expansion.

However, with the increasing popularity of online video games and the gradual increase in Internet speed and complexity, people’s relationships have slowly become less frequent, while the number of people forming lasting social interactions, such as marriages, relationships, and friendships, has been on the decline over the last few decades. Many sociologists argue that this is due to the fact that increased levels of stress and pressure caused by an increasingly automated environment (which most of us can agree is bad for us) have led to people spending more of their free time playing online games, rather than engaging in more meaningful forms of social media. Others argue that online video games have simply displaced offline human social interactions (such as those related to traditional church attendance and recreation) and replaced them with online games. You can get more information about  situs qq.

However, these arguments are oversimplified and somewhat misinformed. While the elimination of interpersonal contact has undoubtedly decreased, it is not necessarily the case that online video games have completely displaced offline interactions. Social interaction is important to game players, whether or not they play the same type of game. In fact, many game players have found that interacting with other players online, even when their connection is not high-speed and with limited data flow, provides them with a form of social interaction that they previously did not have. Online gaming communities have formed and continue to grow as game players find new ways to connect with each other.

The current study finds that there are tangible social benefits to be gained from online gaming. Players who regularly play and stay in a multiplayer game with other similarly situated players tend to be more balanced in terms of emotional intensity and tolerance for stress than are those who do not engage in this type of interaction. Those who socialize with others in a single player game seem to be less tolerant of stress and more stressed out than those who do not socialize. And, overall, those who socialize more with another player in a multiplayer game tend to be happier than those who do not.

The authors do not offer any clinical explanation for these findings. However, they do point out that the tendency for people to develop levels of social anxiety and depression may be related to their low level of activity in one of their most fundamental and reliable sources: the actual face-to-face interaction with other human beings. People with low activity in this area are known to have higher rates of both depression and social anxiety disorder than do those with higher activity levels. This pattern of low activity and increased depression or social anxiety seems to apply equally well to online video games, in which the lack of direct human contact may promote depression and social isolation as a result of not being able to meet friends and family.

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