Article

The Effects of Computer Games on Adolescent Personality

Abstract

In recent decades, computer games have become a form of popular entertainment in modern society. As a result, many people, including parents and researchers, have asked questions about how these computer games affect their users. Most psychologists who have begun research on this subject have mainly studied the negative effects of video games, but this trend has begun to change in recent years, with researchers also turning to their positive effects. This research explores the role that video games play in young people's lives and how they can be used to improve mental health and well-being. But our reasearch is based on the effects on adolescents, especially those related to self-esteem, sociability and anxiety. A lot of studies in this area are made on variables such as violence and aggression, but we wanted to look beyond them and try to analyze some features and concepts of personality that do not appear so often in research.
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THE EFFECTS OF COMPUTER GAMES
ON ADOLESCENT PERSONALITY
Mihaela Luminița SANDU
Lecturer Ph.D.
Ovidius University of Constanța (Romania)
mihaela_naidin@yahoo.com
Maria PESCARU
Associate Professor Ph.D.
University of Pitești (Romania)
mariapescaru@yahoo.com
Abstract: In recent decades, computer games have become a form of popular
entertainment in modern society. As a result, many people, including parents and
researchers, have asked questions about how these computer games affect their
users. Most psychologists who have begun research on this subject have mainly
studied the negative effects of video games, but this trend has begun to change in
recent years, with researchers also turning to their positive effects. This research
explores the role that video games play in young people’s lives and how they can be
used to improve mental health and well-being. But our reasearch is based on the
effects on adolescents, especially those related to self-esteem, sociability and
anxiety. A lot of studies in this area are made on variables such as violence and
aggression, but we wanted to look beyond them and try to analyze some features
and concepts of personality that do not appear so often in research.
Key words: effects, games, computer, personality, teenagers
1. The particularities of adolescent personality development
Puberty and adolescence, presented as a transition from childhood to
adulthood, is characterized by the transition to adult life, where the adolescent must
respond to family, political, professional demands, etc., often described as the most
disturbed, the most stressful and more difficult of all stages of development. The
adolescent period is also seen as tumultuous, contradictory, being described as a
storm, also called “the age of crises”. Here there is a major psychological
development and stabilization of personality structures. G. Standley Hall, in his work
in 1904, launches for the first time the opinion of the crisis character of this age, a
feature that is shared by most field specialists. Specifically, there is a “storm and
stress” stage that, in the opinion of the renowned American psychologist, suggests a
perpetual oscillation between extremes, between exuberance and apathy, cruelty
and sensitivity, diligence and laziness” (Munteanu, A., 2003: 234).
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During this period we can notice and recognize the spectacular
transformations that the individual traverses in all aspects on several levels. Of these,
some authors suggest that two of the most important plans are related to the
profession, the process of professionalization, and the area of adolescent
relationships while other psychologists claim that exploitation of the social
environment and clarification of vocational choices are the most important
development directions of the period adolescence (Sion, G, 2007: 190). Drama and
the crisis arise because the teenager fails to change from childhood to adulthood at
once, oscillating between childhood and maturity. There are also a number of
opinions that “in the future, adolescence will have a more dramatic configuration,
with the increasing tensions of existence” (Munteanu, A., 2003: 235).
Emilia Albu formulates a definition of this period, the stage of adolescence
“being dominated by the adaptation to adulthood, by the process of gaining identity,
by the intense intellectual intent of the conduct” (Albu, E., 2007: 66). She argues that
after the end of puberty, and during adolescence, there is an intense exodus from a
tutelary, family and school society and a wider cultural and social life.
In Sillamy’s view, adolescence is defined as “the period of life that lies
between childhood, which continues, and adulthood. It is an ingrained period”,
marked by body and psychological transformations that begin at 12 or 13 years old
and end between 18 and 20 years old. These limits are vague because adolescence’s
appearance and duration vary by gender, race, geographical conditions and the
socioeconomic environment. Psychologically, adolescence is marked by the
activation and flourishing of the sexual instinct, the shaping of professional and social
interests, the desire for freedom and autonomy, and the amplification of the
affective life. Intelligence is diversified, the power of abstraction of thought grows,
particular abilities are specified. The function of adolescence is to recognize, in all
the existing virtual virtues, the possibilities of each, which will allow individuals to
choose a way and engage in an adult life. But it is also to discover more closely the
human beings, oneself and others, and to establish new relationships with the
entourage: distance from parents, closeness (fellowship, friendship, love) to those
of peers. Adolescents constitute a social ensemble particularly rich in virtues and
dynamics” (Sillamy, N., 2009: 15).
From a physical point of view, the adolescence period is bounded by puberty
and maturity, sometimes described from puberty and ending in adulthood. During
this period, rapid changes and significant increases in height and weight are noticed.
“Due to the explosive and unequal growth, the teenager’s appearance is not always
harmonious. This is why most teenagers are deeply concerned about how they look.
Problems such as pimples, irregular teeth, greasy skin, glasses, all these things that
may seem minor become real existential problems during this period, and girls and
boys are also worried about it. Explosive growth is a challenge for the adolescent’s
psyche, they must learn to adapt to the new appearance at a rate often too fast”
(Sion, G., 2007: 191).
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Once the adolescent stage appears, there are changes in vital activities, for
example, appetite is generally good, even if some food whims appear. Sleep is easy
to install and is comforting, but its rhythm is often disturbed due to the habit of
learning at night. Healthiness oscillates, from 14 to 18 years old, except for the
appearance of dermatoses, acne, and between 18-24 years old, the teenager
becomes fragile, exposing it to a range of illnesses, such as asthenia, neurosis, etc..
Attitude to bath fluctuates in boys, in the sense of an obvious disinterest until 12
years old, which stops gradually after this interval. Also during this period, “the
teenager has an interest in setting up his own room, the taste of the clothing being
refined. Sexual maturity is complete and sexual conduct is usually organized”
(Munteanu, 2003: 238)
The main issues that arise during the adolescence are related to personal
identification (self-identification) or self-consciousness development, involving the
identity of the ego and the placement of the subject in reality. (Schiopu, U., Verza,
E., 1997: 219). These complicated difficulties arise due to changes in the system of
requirements to which the teenager is subjected, but also due to changes in which
the personality goes with its structures and substructures. Here many authors speak
of an intensification of self-perception, which develops in several aspects: the body
image, identification and consciousness of the ego, identification of meaning, role
and sexual status, and especially of the social one. In general, perception and body
image become critical, due to changes in silhouette, physiognomy and attitude.
Body image is at the center of the teenager’s self-consciousness, without
which identification can not be organized. “It’s the time they stay in the bathroom,
they look in the mirror (narcissism), identify ignored details of the forehead, neck,
eyes, smile, etc. The mirror gains new functions. The wishes of retouching or masking
various skin impurities or other types of issues become apparent, first of all in girls.
These touches express the desire to adjust the body’s self, the desire to appear
agreeable and presentable, etc. At the same time, these adjustments are the shaping
of the social and spiritual self. Often pubes in front of the mirror make grimaces,
smiling, looking for the most different expressions they can reproduce. Pubertal
narcissism is alternately critical and lenient, with sometimes devastating moments”
(Șchiopu, U., Verza, E., 1997: 219).
Affiliation to a particular family and group drives the adolescent to adapt and
overcome infantile, frustrating, insecure and addictive situations. Vocational identity
is also formed during this period, and together they establish the personality traits
in which the requirements of aptitude and attitude expression become conditions of
self-assertion. “Identity development is less spectacular in terms of dependence or
in situations where infantile forms of independence are maintained. Forms of
addiction, material, emotional (of comfort and belonging) and mentality (values) can
cause frustrations and conflicts between the teenager and parents, diminishing the
expression of the young’s availability. This leads to rigid or lean behaviors that seal
their way of how personality evolves” (Verza, E., 1993: 106).
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Sensitively, the individual is subject to a decrease in all sensory thresholds,
resulting in an increased sensitivity. During this period the visual and chromatic field
is stabilized, the teenager acquires additional capacity to name the colors. For girls,
a more developed odoriferous acuity is noticed, especially for perfumes. Also during
this period there is a better ability to verbalise the inner feelings. (Munteanu, A.,
2003: 238) Adolescents are able to organize and direct their own observations
without need of help, and post-decay individuals use these observations in research.
Representations are also made with greater ease in adolescents. They can have very
rich representations in detail but also others with a very high degree of generality. It
emphasizes the organization of representations around central ideas or concepts in
a cognitive field.
Adolescents can easily represent structural and functional relationships
between different kinds of elements. They touch very easily the high level of the
generalizations in representation, the one of the figurative concepts. Those
interested in the technique and who will specialize in post-adolescence in this field
will acquire even greater skills of representation. Likewise, they can represent, in
detail, significant aspects of as many structures and capture new features and
functionalities. These imaging capacities are demonstrated both in solving practical
tasks and at dream times that occur relatively frequently at this age.” (Crețu, T.,
2005: 34)
The emotional life is tinted in adolescence, the individual emotions become
more balanced. With openness to beauty, superior feelings (intellectual, aesthetic,
moral) also appear. In contrast to the opposite sex, a particular opening occurs, the
adolescence being considered the age of the most agitated love. The choice of the
partner is often based on the parental model, and if this model is not acceptable to
the teenager, the choice will work according to antinomic or random criteria.
(Munteanu, A., 2003: 245) There is a wide and deep emotional resonance in relation
to all the events that the adolescent goes through, from family (health, difficulties,
quarrels, etc.), from school (notes, winnings in competitions and Olympics, teachers'
opinions) and society , social, cultural, local, national, etc.). The emotional-expressive
behaviors setting is more effective both in diminishing and amplifying them. The
moral concepts develop, deepen and become the benchmarks for evaluating their
own affective responses as well as others in the most diverse situations.
In specialized literature, researchers believe video games have a significant
influence on adolescent self-esteem. On the other hand, opinions are divided. Some
authors argue that video games help increase self-esteem because adolescents can
embody a character similar to them in the context in which these games are
stimulating without being too difficult (Lieberman, D.A., 1998: 87). The
aforementioned author studied within the same research and the effectiveness of
video games in informing sick children about how to take care of themselves. The
study showed that informative play about diabetes encouraged self-esteem and
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social support behavior, correctly and actively informed patients, and subsequently
seen healthy behaviors and better outcomes.
Furthermore, it has been suggested that some of the most intense positive
emotional experiences are triggered in the context of video games (McGonigal, J.,
2011: 32). Gamers have called one of these positive “flow” experiences, which has
been described as an emotional experience in which they are immersed in a
rewarding intrinsic activity that offers a high degree of control and simultaneously
evoking a loss of self-consciousness (Sherry, JL, 2004: 328–347). In psychology,
“flow” experience has often been correlated with a series of positive outcomes for
adolescents, such as commitment to high school and achievements, high self-
esteem, and lower anxiety (Csikszentmihalyi, M., et al., 1993: 53).
However, if there is indeed a subgroup of players who have problems with
self-esteem and establishing meaningful relationships with others, and therefore
develops a problematic, addictive video game by which they manage to cope or
escape these difficulties, then the lack of social skills may be at the root of this social
problem. Consequently, a measurement of social skills and self-esteem could
effectively predict problems arising from video games. Moreover, by investigating
the relationship between social skills and the problematic interest in computer
games, we can achieve a complete and concrete understanding of the social
characteristics of passionate gamers (Loton, D., 2007: 54).
In his study Loton suggests that people who play video games and get high
scores have a little lower self-esteem, are less verbally expressive, less comfortable
in various social situations, and are better listeners and are more sensitive to social
norms [...] (Loton, D., 2007: 55).
2. Computer games and their influence on the teenager’s personality
Since 1996, in the United States, researchers’ concerns have been noticed
about the effects of computer use and pathological behaviors related to the use of
the Internet. It is essential, however, to understand the term computer game or
video game and how it differs from other types of media (eg books, television,
movies). The distinctive feature is that video games are interactive: players can not
afford a story. Instead, video games are designed for players to be trained by the
game system and, in turn, games react to user behaviors. There are millions of video
games that encompass a multitude of themes and objectives. These video games can
be played cooperatively, in a team, or require only one player; may require other
players physically present, or thousands of other players online and are played on
various devices, consoles (eg PlayStation, Nintendo Wii etc.), computers or mobile
phones. Because of their diversity in the many genres and the wide range of sizes
they offer, it is very difficult to make a classification of them.
Over the past 10 years there has been an explosion in the number of
research on the subject. This research has helped to better understand how video
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and computer games affect players. Several researchers have made clear that “video
games are influential teachers that have significant effects in several areas, some of
which may be considered beneficial and others may be harmful.” (Prot, S., et al.,
2012: 647)
Gentile and other researchers have proposed at least 5 dimensions for video
game players to be affected. The games are multidimensional and the effects they
have on the players are complex, different sizes are likely to appear for each size.
The 5 dimensions are related to: the amount of hours played, the content of the
game, the context of the game, the structure of the game and the mechanics of the
game. (Gentile, D.A., 2011: 75-81).
Effects on the amount of hours played are related to lower academic
performance and increased risk of obesity (Berkey, C.S., et al., 2000: 105). The violent
content of video games is a significant risk factor for aggressive behavior, while the
content of prosocial games can increase empathy and aiding behavior, educational
games being able to form specific skills (Greitemeyer, T., et al. 2010: 211–221). The
context in which video games are played can change or create new effects. For
example, virtual team game can encourage collaborative behavior (Hamalainen, R.,
2008: 98–109).
Research on the effects of the game structure shows that fast games within
the “action” category can increase visual and spatial skills (Green, C.S., 2006: 1465–
78). Today’s innovative video game mechanisms, such as the Wii controller,
successfully promote physical activity and have even been used for physiotherapy.
The largest and best-understood field of research on the effects of computer
games refers to their violent effects on aggression. The results of multiple
experimental, correlative and longitudinal studies confirm that violence in video
games can significantly increase aggressive thoughts, emotions and behaviors, both
in the short and long term (Anderson, C.A., et al., 2007).
Studies suggest that computer games with violent content increase
aggression, expressed by aggressive thoughts and emotions, even when stimuli
physiological properties have been controlled. Video games can increase aggressive
thoughts, offer positive attitudes towards violence, and help to set up a hostile
awarding bias: the tendency to perceive the behavior of others as malicious
(Anderson, C.A., 2000: 772–90). In the short term, exposure to violence in video
games produces feelings of hostility and anger (Carnagey, N.L., et al., 2005). Even
critics who investigate violent games support the findings about aggressive thoughts,
the stimulation of aggressive behavior, and the decline in pro-social behaviors
(Ferguson, C.J., 2007). For longer periods of time, such changes can lead to the
development of an aggressive personality (Bartholow, B.D., et al., 2005).
These effects of violent games on aggressive behavior can be seen in a
number of studies:
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To demonstrate the causal effects of computer game violence on the immediate
increase of aggression, several experimental studies have been conducted. For
example, in a laboratory experiment, the children and adolescents involved playing
a violent game were more likely to destroy a virtual opponent using a loud noise by
earning compared to those who played a nonviolent game. (Anderson, C.A., et al.,
2007)
Correlative studies have enabled researchers to explore the link between
violent video games and real-life aggression. For example, adolescents who played
violent games to a greater extent were more likely to be involved in physical battles.
(Gentile, D.A., et al., 2007)
Longitudinal studies have shown that the relationship between computer game
violence and aggressiveness is taking place over time. For example, children who
played violent games at the beginning of the school year showed more aggressive,
physical and verbal behaviors 5 months later. (Anderson, C.A., et al., 2007)
Meta analyzes combine the results of several studies and provide the strongest
evidence that violence in video games increases the risk of aggression. An analytical
meta-analysis in this field has concluded that there is significant impact of computer
game violence on behavior, for any type of research or experimental plan.
(Anderson, C.A., et al., 2010: 41)
Researchers have concluded that violence in video games leads to a
desensitization of it, a decrease in empathy and aiding behavior. Desensitization in
this case can be defined as a physiological and emotional reduction in the reaction
to violence. Short-term exposure to media violence has been shown to produce a
physiological desensitization in just 20 minutes, while exposure to video games has
consistently led to chronic desensitization in the longer run. (Carnagey, N.L., et al.,
2007: 489–96)
Another dimension of research about the effects of computer games on
youth is the relationship between them and school performance. Several studies
have found a significant negative relationship between the amount of time given to
the screen (including television programs) and the school performance of children,
adolescents and students (Sharif, I., et al., 2006: 1061–1070). In other words, large
amounts of time spent in front of the screen are associated with lower school
performance. An explanation of this situation refers to the substitution hypothesis,
which states that video games and TVs replace the time that should be given for
reading, themes, or other knowledge enrichment activities (Bushman, BJ, et al. 2001:
223–254). Some evidence has been found to prove the substitution hypothesis. In a
nationwide study on a large sample of young people between the ages of 10 and 19,
computer games players had 30% less reading than those who do not play video
games (Cummings, H.M.M., et al., 2007: 684–689).
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3. Research methodology
3.1. The objective of the research
The objective we have been pursuing was to identify the level of personality
(self-esteem, anxiety, sociability) of adolescents passionate about computer games,
and compare them to less playful teenagers.
To accomplish this goal, we followed a series of steps that helped us in our
research: identifying valid psychological tools to assess self-esteem, anxiety, and
sociability, administering them to a group of adolescents aged 14 and 25 years, the
quoting of answers according to the instructions of the established questionnaires,
the creation of a database and the statistical analysis of the data obtained, in order
to identify some significant differences between the players who play very much and
those who play less.
The objective outlined above is generalized by allowing an objective study
and the formulation of concrete conclusions, from which research can be expanded
and continued on several objectives. Because personalised research on computer
games is numerous, more complex objectives and hypotheses have not been
addressed in this bachelor thesis, serving as a starting point for other research based
on the same subject.
3.2. Research hypotheses
As regards the relationship between the objective and the hypothesis, it was
attempted to maintain in the same sphere of study. Starting from the observations
in the literature and the framework objective of the paper, we assumed that:
- Adolescents who are passionate about computer games and practice them for
more hours are less self-esteem than adolescents who do not practice them.
- Adolescents who play computer games in an intense manner are more anxious
than adolescents playing less or do not play at all.
- Adolescents who play computer games in an intense manner are less sociable
than teenagers playing less or do not play at all.
- There is a correlation between self-esteem and sociability in adolescents playing
computer games.
3.3. Presentation of research methodology: research tools and sample
To collect data on anxiety, self-esteem and sociability, we applied 3
questionnaires:
a) Spielberger’s Anxiety Status-Trait Inventory, X1 Form. This inventory was carried
out by Spielberger et al. (1970) and it is one of the most used tools for anxiety
assessing.
b) Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale, originally developed to measure the global sense
of personal value and self-acceptance.
c) The cosi questionnaire, a sociability questionnaire we developed ourselves.
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3.4. Participants sample
The group of subjects for this research includes a total of 736 participants,
divided by age, sex, and hours spent on computer games. Thus, there were 674 boys
and 62 girls, of which under 10 years old there were 3, between 10-14 years old there
were 61 persons, between 14 and 20 years there were 521 people, aged 20-25
responded to 130 people and over 25 there were 21 people. According to the hours
of playing, 136 people play under 7 hours a week, 201 people with 7-14 hours per
week, 153 people with 14-21 hours and 246 people over 21 hours a week.
3.5. Analysis and data processing
Hypothesis 1: Adolescents who are passionate about computer games and practice
them in a number of hours have a lower self-esteem than adolescents who do not
practice them.
To confirm this hypothesis, we have compared computer game players
according to the number of hours they play. Firstly, the study participants were
divided into two groups: the number 1 in the table below represents adolescents in
the sample who play less than 14 hours per week and number 2 represents
adolescents playing more than 14 hours per week. The following table presents the
results of the t-Student test for comparing the averages of two samples. We noticed
that the scores on two questions are significant. Question 4 and 7 of the first
questionnaire sounds like, “I’m capable of doing things just as well as others” and “I
think I’m a valued man, at least like other people.” For these questions, category 1
of players, those who play less, had a higher average than category 2, those who play
for several hours. This means that gamers playing a limited number of hours have a
higher self-esteem than those who play in excess.
Hypothesis 2: Adolescents playing computer games in an intense way are more
anxious than adolescents playing less or who do not play at all.
Like the above hypothesis, in this case the sample of players was divided into
two groups, the number 1 signifying the players with a limited number of playing
hours and the number 2 representing the players who play excessively, very much.
First, we used the t-Student test to compare the averages of the two samples to
identify whether and where there is a significant difference between the two groups
compared.
A significant difference was noticed for item 11 of the questionnaire. This
question is addressed as follows: “I trust my powers” and it can be answered with a
response scale ranging from “Never” to “Always”. In the figure below we can see
how the participants answered this question.
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Although the difference between the two groups is not very large, it has to
be taken as such. In this case, the hypothesis from which we started is invalid,
adolescents who do not play computer games are more anxious than those who play
for many hours. This idea is also supported by the theoretical part of this study, as
there are studies and hypotheses that have confirmed that anxiety is greater in
adolescents playing computer games, although many research also support the
hypothesis to the contrary. In this study, computer games represent a distraction
from the stressful situations the teenager encounters daily. During this period the
adolescent has to cope with family, political, professional demands, etc., often go
through disturbing, stressful and difficult situations. Among the innumerable
activities and hobbies that adolescents can practice, a large number of them prefer
to play computer games, compared to other teenagers who focus their attention on
the real world, full of problems and negativity.
Computer games can also simulate stressful situations that the teenager
feels challenging for anxiety. Many of these situations represent a new environment
for teenagers, and by practicing these situations through a character, anxiety over
the specific situation can decrease when it happens in real life. And this idea is
another interesting hypothesis that could be studied later.
Hypothesis 3: Adolescents who play computer games in an intense way have less
sociability than adolescents playing less or do not play at all.
Using the same method applied to previous hypotheses, to demonstrate
that there is a significant difference between category 1, adolescents playing video
games less than 14 hours a week and category 2, adolescents playing more than 14
hours per week. Firstly, we used the t-Student test for independent samples to see
at what items it appears a significant difference. We found this difference in items 3,
14 and 15 that sound like, “I like to spend my free time alone”, “I prefer to talk on
the phone than to write messages / emails”, “I like to invite a lot of people at my
birthday”. We continued with the table that shows the descriptive indices to
conclude if the hypothesis is confirmed or not.
Below there are the graphs showing how teenagers responded to those
questions where significant differences were recorded. The item in the next figure,
for question 14, is reversed, and it is noticed how gamers who play computer games
very much prefer to avoid any social contact offline, even by phone. Excited players
prefer quiet birthdays with few people. Birthday parties often bring a lot of attention
from the guests to the celebration. This suggests that players in the category that
play more than 14 hours a week prefer to circumvent situations in which they have
to socialize with a large number of people.
Statistical calculations have concluded that gamers who play computer
games for more than 14 hours a week, sometimes more than 21 hours, have a lower
sociability than players who play less. This is due to many factors. First, Simmel
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defines sociability as “the ability to form offline social connections” (Simmel, 1949:
255). If players spend so much time in front of the computer, they lose out of the
normal time they should have been given to other types of activities, especially those
involving socialization. Many times, adolescents replace the time that should have
been spent in the company of others with the online one. This idea is also supported
by the theoretical part of this paper, especially the idea of “replacement theory”
which claims that if a teenager plays a computer game, he can not be more careful
about others, so he can not socialize anymore. Unfortunately, these two activities
can not be practiced at the same time. One of the options must be chosen: video
game or socialization. The repercussions of choosing video games can affect the
interpersonal relationships of passionate players. These relationships are often
neglected and sometimes disappear altogether. Not only neglect is the only
consequence of choosing video games; many players only deal with topics related to
their passion for video games when they have discussions with friends or people they
socialize with. These discussion subjects are often taken to the extreme, the
conversation partners wanting to interrupt the conversation and even get rid of the
gamers. Finally, when the entourage approaches other topics, gamers tend to feel
ignored and become irritated or even offended. But they do not realize that choosing
them to play video games for a large number of hours leads to this unpleasant
situation.
Hypothesis 4. There is a correlation between self-esteem and sociability in
adolescents playing computer games.
The last hypothesis of this research examines whether there is a correlation
between self-esteem and sociability of gamers. As can be seen in the table above, at
the thresholds of significance p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, there is a correlation between
self-esteem and sociability to a confidence of 95% and 99%, respectively. In the
figures below we can overcome the histograms made on the total scores of the
participants in the self-esteem questionnaire and what measures the sociability.
Everyone had the experience of trusting their own powers, basically, to
appreciate oneself and find out their own worth. This means we have a positive
attitude towards our own qualities, which we evaluate at a high level. We are
affected by a feeling that shows us our own capacity, competence, and the power to
do what we want. We compare favorably with others and can organize in our
everyday life activities that are consistent with these feelings of self-worth. Also,
every person knows what it means to go through a diminution of self-esteem. It is
characterized by the opposite of all these positive elements described above, and
results in self-disapproval, impotence, lack of power, and even depression.
If the self-esteem of a person is low, there is a tendency to withdraw from
activity, reaching passivity. Such people try to find ways to normalize, to find a level
of self-esteem ideal to be able to participate in daily activities and not only. But many
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of these people are failing and looking for those moments that make them feel good
about themselves. These types of moments and behaviors are truly anti-social: from
drinking to drugs, from giving up school or working to depression and hostility to
others. This retraction is self-destructive, and deviant behavior is social problems
because it involves getting out of normal, responsible behaviors and going into
exactly the opposite of them. When these types of behavior are aggregated, they
become a social issue.
Self-esteem and sociability are two closely related concepts, people with
high self-esteem are sensitive to the feelings and needs of others, accept social
norms and do not want to trample others to succeed. Instead, a person with low self-
esteem is dissatisfied when it comes to specific social relationships (Johnson, J., et
al., 2011: 563-591). For gamers playing a large number of hours of study, self-esteem
and sociability is lower than that of lesser-playing players. The study shows that
these two variables analyzed positively correlate, which is also shown by the results
of the previous hypotheses.
This information and calculations suggest that teenagers in this study who
have a low sociability have a lower self-esteem. From personal observations
supported by the theoretical part of the paper, we found that adolescents who
prefer to spend their free time playing video games do not have time for activities
that would increase them and positively influence self-esteem or sociability. If a
teenager does not interact with different people or age-specific situations, he/she
will not have the necessary experience later in life to cope with such situations. In
general, sociability is a preference for being in the company of others, in opposition
to loneliness (Cheek, J.M., et al., 1981: 330–339) and is based on the extent to which
a teenager prefers to have more social relationships (Mounts, N.S., et al., 2009: 71–
80). Especially in a social context, if the adolescent gamer is not sociable, he will
never have the experience of a social group, so he will not have a high self-esteem
in such situations.
Conclusions
Finally, the goal of our article, which consisted in identifying the level of
personality characteristics (self-esteem, anxiety, sociability) of adolescents
passionate about playing computer games and comparing them with less playful
teenagers, was achieved by confirming three hypotheses four supposed. Confirmed
hypotheses are about self-esteem, which is lower for adolescent gamers who play
more hours than those who play less. The second confirmed hypothesis is related to
the sociability of adolescent players, being smaller in those who play computer
games intensely than those who play less. The third hypothesis argues that
adolescents passionate about computer games have a higher anxiety than those who
do not play, but this idea is being denied, gamers playing more have lower anxiety
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199
than those who play less. The last confirmed hypothesis shows that there is a
correlation between self-esteem and sociability of adolescent gamers.
The article claims that the three personality traits studied are affected by the
constant play of computer games. This is not surprising because the teenage period
is often influenced by the same kind of social activities and contexts that may or may
not be beneficial to the teenager. This work demonstrates that computer games can
bring benefits but also disadvantages to the teenager’s personality. In general, it is
important to keep some moderation in the activity of video games and not only.
Finally, computer games are designed to recreate the user, to feel relaxed.
In our article, objectives and hypotheses are presented in a general,
systematized way. This is due to their own desire to make a computer game study
based on the Romanian population that will serve as a starting point for other
research in the same field. We have tried to a concise and useful support for such
future research. From personal observations on literature, we can say that this
theme can be enriched on both theoretical and research side. The latter part can be
restored to other age groups, such as adulthood, or you can focus on the different
effects that computer games have on boys or girls.
An interesting topic of study would be to identify the level of personality
characteristics of adolescents passionate about computer games based on the types
of games they practice. We believe that each specific game genre would bring other
effects and influences on adolescents.
Finally, we hope this paper will open new horizons and become the basis of
other similar studies, or will solidify the understanding of the effects that computer
games have on its users, regardless of age or gender. Deepening this article can bring
significant benefits to the field of psychology and professions that are linked to this
theme.
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Psihologia vârstelor -pentru uzul studenților
  • Emilia Albu
Albu, Emilia. 2007. Psihologia vârstelor -pentru uzul studenților. Târgu-Mures: "Petru Maior" University.
Bucharest: Ministry of Education and Research Project for Rural Education
  • Tinca Crețu
Crețu, Tinca. 2005. Psihologia adolescentului și adultului. Bucharest: Ministry of Education and Research Project for Rural Education.