A recent study has confirmed something many parents have been worried about: violent video games are linked to worsening teen social issues, but not in the way many think. Instead of it being directly the violent material’s fault, researchers think it’s the avoidance of social interaction that is problematic–not the gaming itself. Psych Central recently covered the study conducted by Brigham Young University.

teen social issuesTeen social issues worsened by violent content

In the study, they found that those struggling with social issues were much more likely to turn to violent video games or other forms of media. Then they would continue to engage at a higher rate, thus worsening their already present teen social issues.

“The mix of avoidance and harmful media appears to be a very bad combination.” –Larry Nelson, Lead author and Brigham Young University Family Life Professor

In the article, the researchers made sure to explain the 3 separate categories for adult and teen social withdrawal. One is really problematic, the other two not so much.

  1. Unsocial: This is a person who doesn’t mind being social and has no issues surrounding it, they just like to be alone.
  2. Shy: This is a person who wants to be social, but it often held back by a fear of being judged or messing up.
  3. Avoidant: This is a person who purposely and actively tries to avoid social interactions.

Researchers found that those who were considered “avoidant” and had problematic media usage were much more likely to experience internalizing or externalizing issues a year down the road than the other two classifications. Internalizing issues are things like depression and anxiety. Externalizing issues are things in the realm of illegal drug use, alcoholism, and crime. Obviously, this is worrying and problematic.

What a parent can do

The researchers in the study believe media use becomes very problematic when it starts to replace social interaction. This is when teen social issues that are small begin to grow because their social skills begin to halt and shrink. As a parent, you can intervene.
Ask your teen what they’re into–art, theater, soccer, etc. Once you’ve found out what it is, offer to help them get into an after-school activity that involves that interest. If it’s art, maybe an after-school art class would be desirable. This gets your teen doing something they like and gets them involved with other people.

blueFire Wilderness can help

blueFire Wilderness is a wilderness therapy program for struggling teens, ages 11 to 17. Our students often grapple with anxiety, depression, teen social issues, and other emotional or behavioral problems. At blueFire, we strive to help each client succeed.
For more information about how blueFire Wilderness treats teen social issues, please call 1 (844) 413-1999 today!

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