Are Video Games Considered Experiential Learning?October 11, 2019
Many young adults learn best through experience, either participating in hands-on activities or by observing other people. While some people may argue that advances in technology have pulled young adults away from real-life learning experiences, other suggest that they are just using other platforms to learn the same lessons. Like outdoor activities and team-building games, video games may be considered a form of experiential learning.
The Addictive Nature of Video Games
It is estimated that 8.5% of US teens who play video games become addicted. Video game addiction doesn’t necessarily refer to the amount of time someone spends playing video games, but rather the reasons why they turn to video games.
- Accessibility. Cross-platform games can be played on one’s computer, TV, or on their phone, which makes it easier for young adults to justify staying connected to the online worlds these games create.
- Coping. Video games can be used to distract from or cope with negative emotions or thoughts.
- Escapism. Many young adults withdraw socially and turn to online worlds to escape from conflicts in their personal lives and other responsibilities.
Metaphors in Real Life
While video game addiction is a relatively new concept, the structure of games are not. As young adults often compare their current situation to their favorite games or movies, it is helpful to connect with them by relating their experiences to metaphors used in video games:
- Keeping a Tool Kit. In most games, users have a variety of tools that they can use to help them advance through levels. In life, young adults develop an emotional tool kit of both healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms to help them deal with stress and everyday situations.
- Experience Points. Like in video games, young adults have to work towards goals by gaining experience and knowledge. As they gain experience points, they unlock additional skills and abilities.
- Restarting Levels. Most video games allow users to immediately restart a level or challenge, something we can’t do so easily in life. While restarting in life is more unrealistic, young adults learn that perceived failures aren’t permanent and that second chances are available.
Experiential Learning Offline
When young adults unplug from technology, they may struggle to apply the skills they’ve learned in other areas of their lives. Many feel a sharp division between their online and offline selves, even though they share similar insight and values. It is easier for them to be confident with the help of a phone or controller than relying on their intuition.
Wilderness therapy offers a variety of experiential learning opportunities for young adults that encourages them to be open to new experiences, to collaborate with others, and to be more present. Introducing young adults to a variety of outdoor activities allows them to carry activities they enjoy with them after they leave and empowers them to continue to carve their own adventures in life.
Steps to Overcoming Video Game Addiction
- Replace Habits
- Explore Values
- Understand Addiction
- Develop Relationships
- Facilitate Self-Discovery
Trails Momentum Can Help
Trails Momentum is a young adult wilderness therapy program for young men and women ages 18-25. From the very beginning of their time at the program, students are completely removed from all technology use. We replace the need for technology with adventure activities and being out in the natural world. They are supported on a daily basis by skilled staff members and are introduced to a whole new environment that creates many of the same neurological reactions as technology. Throughout their time at Trails Momentum, students become aware of the effects technology once had on them and form new, positive hobbies that replace their technology use.
For more information about treatment at Trails Momentum, please call (877) 296-8711 or visit https://trailsmomentum.com/grow/.