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How can playing online games affect your relationships? Pros and cons.

Photo by Yan Krukau: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-smiling-man-in-a-brown-shirt-sitting-with-clenched-fists-9072301/

Online gaming has become an increasingly popular pastime, with millions of people logging on to play their favorite games worldwide. But, as with any activity, online gaming can positively and negatively affect personal relationships. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the pros and cons of online gaming with respect to personal relationships.

Pros:

Socialization

Online gaming can benefit socialization in several ways. One of the most obvious ways is that it allows people to connect and interact with others regardless of their location. This can be especially beneficial for people who may have difficulty forming social connections in person, such as those who live in rural areas or have mobility issues. Online gaming can also provide a sense of community and belonging, where players can connect with others who share their interests and hobbies. Playing together with friends, family, or your significant other can enhance your relationship by giving you something to do together on a regular basis.

Playing games online also offers a way for people to communicate and collaborate, which can help to develop social skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. Many online games are designed to be played with other people and require players to communicate with each other in order to succeed. This can be an effective way to learn and practice communication skills in a low-pressure environment.

Online gaming can also be a way for people to form and maintain friendships, especially if they are playing with people they already know. This can be a fun and bonding experience, and it can serve as a common interest that can bring people closer together.

Additionally, online gaming can also offer opportunities for people to meet new people and even make new friends. Many online games have built-in matchmaking systems that allow players to connect with others who are also looking for teammates or opponents.

It’s important to note that online gaming can also have negative effects on socialization if not used in a balanced way. Make sure to balance online gaming with other real-world activities, such as spending time with friends and family, getting exercise outside, or working on non-online hobbies.

online games affect relationships by giving an outlet for stress.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

Relieving Stress

There have been several studies that suggest that online gaming can have a positive effect on stress. Some studies have found that playing games online can be a way to relax and unwind, and can serve as an outlet for stress and negative emotions. Since relationships are often strained by one or both people being stressed out by circumstances, a productive outlet for stress can help a relationship significantly.

One study conducted by the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction found that playing online games can have a positive effect on mood and reduce stress. The study surveyed over 1000 participants and found that those who play online games regularly reported feeling less stressed and more relaxed than those who do not.

Another study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that playing video games, including online games, can have a positive effect on stress, anxiety, and depression among adults. The study surveyed over 1000 adults and found that those who reported playing video games regularly had lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression than those who did not play video games.

There is an undeniable dopamine hit that results in winning games or in playing games where you are able to win prizes or money. Online gambling is a form of online gaming that is often treated as its own class of gaming, but it really has a lot of similarities to other types of online gaming. The role of chance exists in online games as it does with gambling. Most online games offer some sort of microtransactions that allow a person to spend money in the hope of getting a good loot drop.  In some cases, the money spent is going to buy a known item, such as a skin or upgrade. But often, people are buying a random loot box of some sort, making that purchase very similar to gambling.

Online casinos have become more and more sophisticated in order to replicate the experience of a physical casino in a virtual setting. Not only can you play online multiplayer card games as if you were sitting at a table in a casino, but you can also play a wide variety of slots and other similar games of chance. There are many examples of this, but VIP slots are one of the most popular options.

Cons:

Conflict

Playing games online with a partner or friends can also lead to conflicts and disagreements, especially if one person is more competitive or invested in the game than the other. There are several ways to avoid this:

  1. Play cooperative games where you are on the same team and working to achieve a team goal.
  2. Agree ahead of time that the gaming session will be for fun only. Winning or losing doesn’t matter for this session, since the goal is to have fun together.
  3. Don’t play against each other or create a situation where one person loses in order for the other to win.

Cyber-Bullying

Cyberbullying refers to the use of technology, such as the internet and online games, to harass, threaten, or intimidate others. In the context of online gaming, cyberbullying can take many forms. For example, players may use the in-game chat function to send hurtful messages, or they may use the anonymity of the internet to post negative comments or threats on forums or social media.

Online games often have a social aspect, players can communicate with each other through in-game chat, voice chat, or forums. This can be a positive thing as it allows players to interact, form friendships, and collaborate on objectives. However, the anonymity and lack of accountability provided by the internet can also lead to players engaging in cyberbullying, where they may feel emboldened to say things they wouldn’t say in person.

Cyberbullying in online games can have serious consequences, both for the person being bullied and for the person doing the bullying. It can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. It can also lead to physical health issues such as sleep disorders, headaches, and stomach problems. It can also affect relationships, both online and offline.

online games affect relationships by increasing a person's sense of isolation.
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels

Isolation

Although the socialization aspects of online gaming can be a benefit, it can also be taken too far, resulting in isolation from real-world friends and loved ones. Maintaining a balance between your online presence and your involvement in the real world is critical for good mental health. While playing together with someone can improve your relationship, if you spend more time playing online without that person, then they may feel neglected and abandoned. Strangely enough, people who spend too much time online may end up feeling very lonely and disconnected, even though they continue to spend more and more time online.

Addiction

Sometimes, the dopamine hits that we get from winning a game can lead to a cycle of playing more and more as a means to repeat that “high”. It seems as though some people’s brains are more susceptible to this addictive effect than others. Obviously, addiction to gaming in any form is very harmful to relationships, because it leads to neglecting duties and physical connections, as well as sometimes resulting in financial problems.

Gaming addiction and gambling addiction are similar in that they both involve excessive engagement in behavior that can lead to negative consequences such as financial debt, relationship problems, and neglect of responsibilities. Both types of addiction can also be associated with changes in brain chemistry and an inability to control the behavior despite negative consequences. However, there are also differences between the two, as gambling addiction specifically involves betting or wagering money while gaming addiction can refer to excessive engagement in any type of game, whether or not it involves gambling.

Microtransactions in a game, which allow players to purchase in-game items or bonuses using real money, can have an impact on the brain similar to gambling. Studies have shown that the act of spending money, regardless of whether it is on gambling or in-game items, can activate the brain’s reward centers and release chemicals such as dopamine, which can lead to feelings of pleasure and euphoria. This can create a cycle of addiction, where the player continues to spend money in order to experience that feeling again. Additionally, the randomized nature of many microtransactions, such as “loot boxes,” can also mimic the uncertainty and unpredictability of gambling, further increasing the potential for addiction.

There is a stigma against gambling in our culture, but studies have clearly shown that microtransactions within a game are every bit as addictive as more traditional gambling. In both cases, you are spending money to stimulate the reward center in your brain. Gamers should be careful of falling prey to addiction and pay close attention to the amount of money they are spending on games of any type.

Conclusion

Online gaming can be a great way to socialize, relieve stress, and form new friendships, but it’s important to find a balance between online gaming and other aspects of life, including relationships. You need to have open communication with friends and partners about the time, money, and energy that you’re putting into gaming, and to be aware of any potential negative effects on your relationships. Being self-aware is the most important thing a gamer needs in order to maintain healthy relationships and good mental health. 

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Darrik Ferranti
I'm a crypto and blockchain geek. That interest has recently driven me to get into online betting using crypto. Writing about those topics is a good way for me to learn more while helping our audience learn at the same time.
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