The holidays spark mixed emotions in teens. Time off from school and family gatherings sounds fun but also anxiety-inducing. Teens feel pressure to socialize continuously and make memories.
But with public health guidance still emphasizing small gatherings, your teen may feel lonely or isolated this season. Virtual connections through online gaming and video hangouts safely boost social bonds so teens stay balanced through the holidays.
Online Games Fight Anxiety by Feeding Key Needs
Teens have pivotal social-emotional needs around competency, autonomy, and connectedness. When these go unmet, anxiety emerges.
Online games uniquely allow teens to feel:
- Competent through mastering gaming challenges
- Autonomous by choosing characters, strategies and pace of play
- Connected with friends online for camaraderie
Fulfilling these core needs breeds confidence and wellbeing instead of anxiety this holiday season.
Here are the top 3 reasons to encourage appropriate online gaming:
#1 Prevails Over Isolation
Laughing with school friends for hours through the headset prevents loneliness during holiday festivities.
In our years of providing virtual therapy, we’ve observed that the brain processes virtual interactions much like real ones, activating social-emotional regions. The holidays cannot cancel community.
#2 Reinforces Identity & Resilience
The amplified spotlight on family during the holidays can challenge teens struggling with independence and identity. But through their avatar, achievements, and online peer groups, video games give teens space to cement their identity and gain self-confidence to stay grounded when seasonal shifts shake the ground beneath their feet.
#3 Normalizes Stress Relief
For overwhelmed teens already dealing with anxiety or depression, gaming delivers much needed cognitive breaks from obsessive internal worries during chaotic times. Through lighthearted quests undertaken with trusted companions, anxious teens learn to reset and refuel.
In Moderation: Setting Healthy Gaming Limits
While appropriate gaming produces psychological benefits, compulsive play raises risks like disrupted sleep and real world relationships.
Aim for 1-2 hours daily of monitored playtime. Watch for changes in mood or behavior like irritability, sadness or lack of interest in offline activities signal its time to log out.
Virtual Hangouts: Staying Connected Over the Holidays
Beyond online quests, frequent video calls nurture connection vital for adolescent development and managing anxiety. Here are some other ideas to keep your anxious teen engaged when not gaming.
Have your teen:
- Schedule Remote Holiday Traditions
- Get creative by coordinating a virtual gingerbread house competition, ugly sweater contest or mock New Year’s Eve countdown with friends near and far.
- Randomly Video Chat Buddies
- Spark spontaneous socialization by setting up video speed friending events where they cycle through 1-on-1 chats with classmates.
- Send Snail Mail Care Packages
- Help them spread snail mail cheer by designing creative care packages with homemade treats and crafts to remind isolated pals they are loved.
Prioritizing Relationships & Wellbeing
This holiday season may look different, but peer bonds remain critical in reducing adolescent anxiety. Through online games and virtual hangouts, prioritize your teen’s social-emotional needs for healthy development.
This year can still overflow with peace and laughter, even over the wires. Stay connected!
Lasting Anxiety Relief Starts Here with Anxiety Therapy in Washington, DC
If you’d like to talk to us about your teen’s anxiety or your anxiety, reach out now to start your anxiety treatment journey – right from the comfort of home.
We can’t wait to meet you and discuss how therapy for anxiety will help you live anxiety-free!
Other Services at DCNE
Overcoming anxiety is only one of the services we offer. Through compassionate therapies like CBT, EMDR and neurofeedback, you can rewire the brain patterns sustaining anxiety long-term. We also provide mental health assessments if you need a diagnosis or aren’t ready to start counseling. Contact us today.