Teens are being continually exposed to online games at a higher and higher rate due to the expansion of technology in everyday life. The real question of this issue is whether or not online games have a negative effect on teens. But more specifically, do online games have a negative effect on relationships? In Adolescent Internet use: What we expect, What teens report by Elisheva F. Gross, a 1999 survey of 1000 parents showed that “almost two-thirds of respondents expressed concern that going online too often may lead children to become isolated from other people” (Gross). However this is an account of the concerns of parents, not the real effect on the teens. I believe that online games do not have a negative effect on teens, but have a positive effect because they are a part of the new technological age, facilitate new relationships, and do not inhibit their offline relationships.
The amount of people spending time online and on games is increasing by the generation. Games are becoming more of a part of everyday life and people obviously need to adjust to that. According to an article studying students in Taiwan, “Computer software and electronic games were popular, with a total of 215 million sold in the United States in 1999” (Chiu 571). This means that millions of people are buying games and bringing them home to play. It integrates well with daily lives because that number would mean “over two sets” would be bought “from each family” (Chiu 571). With such a high amount of consumers in the gaming industry, this points towards the games being more of a part of the consumer’s life than taking away from it. In Taiwan, “77% of teenagers aged 11–16 played video games” (Chiu 571). This means that the majority of people aged 11-16 are playing video games. This number means the majority of people are likely playing video games with each other. Yet people would still say that video games are a negative influence on the interpersonal relationships of teens. “this postulation is based on the premise that usage is motivated by the desire to overcome social anxiety” (Lo 15). These arguments of the opposition are based off of a “premise”. The relationships developed are not important to the opposition because they guess that the games are played to overcome social anxiety. They COULD be played for that, or they could be played for entertainment and to connect with others. “75% of students played games at home, 24% played games every day” (Chiu 571). These students are playing games at home, and daily, once again showing the integration of games into everyday life. This study is just on a part of the world, but it shows the global influence of video games on the youth (mainly teens) of the world. Singer sees the change in the world due to technology. He knows about the advances and sees it as a chance to affect the world more easily. Where once the world was a big place, “Instant communications and jet transport have changed all that” (Singer 381). He knows that online games are just another form of communication to be used and would embrace them. He would see the use in having access to people all around the world and would take advantage of it from an ethical perspective.
The Online games of today all have communities one can join and become a part of. Real relationships can be developed over the internet, and they should not be diminished as fake or without substance. There are all kinds of dating sites on the web where people can find happiness, who’s to say you can’t develop true friendships online? In Adolescent Internet use: What we expect, What teens report by Elisheva F. Gross, there is a survey done to see if there is an association between online time and psychological adjustment and “I found no associations between time online (overall or by domain) and psychosocial adjustment” (Gross). There wasn’t anything to find when studying these interactions because they are essentially the same thing as normal face to face communication in the real world. These actions online appear “to serve social functions similar to those provided by the telephone” (Gross). They are normal communication to the teens using these tools, and should be treated as such. Lo argues that “high-volume users of online chat rooms tend to suffer from increasingly weak real-world interactions with their friends, families, and social activities” (Lo 16). But his research, as previously stated, is based on “the premise that usage is motivated by the desire to overcome social anxiety” (Lo 15). If the people in these chat rooms or playing games are not relieving social anxiety, then they are more likely there to enjoy themselves and make friends. His opinion that “Individuals who feel extreme anxiety over establishing real interpersonal relationships may use the Internet as a substitute for real world social contacts” (Lo 15) is too specific. If you want to make a claim about teens, it should be about all teens. The counterargument to the use of online video games is too specific and based on a single psychological perspective. Anything can turn out the way you want if you specify the parameters enough. But that does not make it fact. Singer sees the value of any relationship, from any place, using any form of communication. This is because “Our century is the first in which it has been possible to speak of a global responsibility and a global community” (Singer 381). We are a very global society, and viedo games are just another example of how we can connect to all kinds of people. There are times where you can find someone who doesn’t even speak the same language as you. But, you can connect with them using the mechanics of a game and having the same objective. This forms a bond that can surpass language borders.
The online world is very much a part of the modern world, but it is still separate in some ways from close relationships. Family and close friends are important, so can those bonds be severed by the use of online games? At the beginning of Gross’s article, she talks about a survey of parents. In this survey “almost two-thirds of respondents expressed concern that going online too often may lead children to become isolated from other people” (Gross). But the fact of the matter is that the time spent playing a video game is separate from the time spent with your family. The two are not so closely connected. In fact, in most cases your family life has nothing to do with what game you are playing. There is the existence of “Heavy Gamers” (Lo 16), but most people who play online games only spend “one half to one hour per session” (Chiu 571). The average amount of time spent playing a game will not greatly effect the amount of time you can be spending with your family. These games can’t take away how you feel about your family, and they can’t take what you have done together. The thought that teens forget how to interact with people normally is also in question. “Such people cannot express their true selves in real world social environments, which triggers social anxiety” (Lo 16).Lo does make a point that people can use online games to escape from real life issues, however this thought would work if online games were no social platforms. Had this been better proven in more cases with more types of people, the point would have been better put across. Considering the fact that people normally communicate on a regular basis in online games, that thought is quite dismissed. Those who talk on the games differently than they would in real life are putting up a front. Seeing as that isn’t how they actually act, it wouldn’t have an effect on their social lives with their families. Singer doesn’t put as much values in family as others might because he sees that as too focused on “self-interest” (Singer 382). A family is important, but those around you and beyond are all just as important. “Our capacity to affect what is happening, anywhere in the world, is one way in which we are living in an era of global responsibility” (Singer 381). Who and what we affect can be just as important, if not more so than the bonds of family are.
The relationships developed in online games are real and valuable. They should not be diminished simply because they are not done face to face. There is still value in having friends outside of games of course, but the ones online can be important as well. The values of family, the relationships developed, and the age of technology we are in are all represented in the online gaming community.