How interactive games replace recreational activities

The number of people who play video games has progressed; nowadays, they play on consoles and shift their leisure preferences to games that can be played on smartphones.

How interactive games replace recreational activities
The popularity of interactive games has displaced that of other forms of entertainment, even those that are more socially recognizable. Photo by Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

Minors who play video games for 10 hours or more show signs of anxiety and face conflicts with their parents, revealed research conducted by Mariana Viruega Muñoz, a graduate of the School of Psychology (FP) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The expert completed this work to recommend strategies to parents for reducing this behavior, which also served to identify risks to mental health.

She evaluated the functions that maintain people's behavior during the use of these video games, as well as the effects of the equivalent behavior during the time of use. The research for a master's thesis carried out post-pandemic with the participation of parents with adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age who present the characteristic of excessive use of electronic games, showed that:

During the pandemic, health, social, and cultural consequences were generated. One of the areas that had significant growth was the use of video games. According to data from the CIU (The Competitive Intelligence Unit), 2020 ended with an increase of 5.5 percent in the number of people who dedicate a large part of their day to video games.

The gamer population has evolved over the years. Now they use consoles, such as Xbox or Playstation, and transfer their entertainment to the virtual games that smartphones offer. There are different types, and the number of users is currently on the rise.

"In recent years, there has been an important change in the way we play, as there is a greater preference for interactive games found on electronic devices than for other types of recreational, sports, cultural, or socio-family activities," alerted the university professor during the 6th cycle of clinical and academic sessions organized by the FP.

"In 2018, the WHO already mentions video game use disorder. It refers to this as a persistent and recurrent use that causes significant impairment and discomfort," she added.

The process she carried out with the parents was to ask them for testimonies in the form of weekly records about their children's behavior concerning video games, keeping accounts of the hours they spend playing and the reasons that motivate them to turn on their consoles.

Based on the results obtained, the function with the highest percentage was that of escape, which means that the adolescents tried to evade or flee from certain situations that altered their emotional level and led to the use of video games. "We began to talk with the parents about what it was that they were escaping from," added the UNAM Master's thesis student in Psychology of Addictions.

She suggested, among other things, spending more time with the teen, giving them breaks from the activity they were avoiding, showing them how to act the way you want them to, and giving them positive attention by praising them for things like washing the dishes, going to class, etc.

"Knowing the functions of video game behavior allowed us to choose more effective intervention strategies. "It should be emphasized that the adolescents did not stop playing video games; what they did was to play in regulated periods," highlighted Viruega Muñoz as part of the conclusions of the study.

The parents were satisfied with the effects of the treatment since the adolescents notoriously reduced the number of hours they played, going from 65.5 to 19, she emphasized.