You’ve probably heard this a lot from your parents or teachers, the idea that gaming is bad for your mental health. Well we’ve debunked some myths about gaming, and this is a pretty big one. So how can it be good for you? Read on to find out more.

How can gaming be positive for your mental health?

Loneliness

A popular use for online gaming is the ability to use it to combat feelings of loneliness. During the pandemic, you might have found that you spent more time gaming online than you used to as a way to talk to and spend time with friends that you would have otherwise seen at school. Well, it turns out that it is a pretty effective method of combating loneliness and improving general feelings of happiness according to research carried out by Oxford University. So maybe show your parents this when they say that gaming isn’t good for you.

Social skills

During the pandemic, we all had to stay at home a lot more than we usually would have to. Without being able to go and see mates in the park, at school, at work or in our homes, there was very little choice for how to hang out with friends. The options were basically a millionth zoom quiz or gaming. So it’s not surprising that playing games online is good for our social skills. It can help build new friendships and relationships with people all over the world who share a common interest, or just hang out with people already in our lives. Either way, it’s a win.

Emotional Resilience (learning to lose) 

One thing that’s a guarantee when it comes to gaming is that at some point or another, you are going to lose. Well, learning to lose graciously is a really important emotional and social skill that we all have to learn at some point. Being a bad loser will certainly lose you a lot of friends. Learning how to pick yourself up after failing at something is a crucial part of life, so keep that in mind the next time someone beats you.

Sense of achievement 

Every game you’ll ever play has a goal; a reason to want to win. Whether it’s an individual battle or race, or part of a longer storyline, there will be plenty of opportunities to pursue within a game. Sure, sometimes you won’t reach it, or maybe not in the way you want, but having something to strive towards is always going to be a part of whatever your favourite game is. A victory of any size is a victory all the same.

Conclusion

So, you’ve definitely got a few reasons why gaming is good for your mental health to back you up next time one of your parents tells you to give it up. But, there is always the danger of too much of a good thing. Remember, whether you consider gaming a passing task you do every now and then, or if you think of yourself as a serious hobbyist, when the fun stops, give yourself a break from it. 

Want to know more about what gaming can do for you? Find out all about it on our gaming hub here.

Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #GamersUnite series. Visit the hub for more advice, tips and ways to support other gamers.

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One of the best things about online gaming is being able to do it with people all over the world. Meeting people through games can be really rewarding, as there is a guarantee you have at least a few things in common with them, and it’s good to have people to play with that you’ve gotten to know in that space.

However, sometimes, not everyone is what they seem behind the screen. With online gaming, you never get the opportunity to actually see them, or really tell if what they are telling you is true. So we’ve put this together to help you identify some of the red flags of a catfish, or even a predator. 

Ask yourself:

  • Do they try to get personal information out of you, like how old you are, what your real name is, where you live and who you live with? 
  • Have they ever said anything to you that made you feel awkward or uneasy?
  • Does something not quite add up in their stories they tell you?
  • Do they refuse to speak over a headset, even though you and others have been using one?
  • Are they weirdly somehow ALWAYS online when you log on? 
  • Have they ever pressured you to send pictures, or meet up in person? 
  • Are they sending you gifts for no reason?
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If you are unsure:

  • Talk to a trusted adult – whether it be a parent, older sibling or close friend. Talking about how you feel can really help make sense of your emotions and a situation.
  • Ask the person why they need to know your personal information.
  • Make your profile private, and deny friend requests from people you don’t know.
  • If they become persistent, block them on your chat platform. Even if it’s only for a few days, give yourself time to reflect on what they are saying/asking.
  • Trust your instincts, you don’t have to say anything you don’t want to. If something doesn’t feel right to you, you don’t have to reply.
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How to protect yourself:

  • Never give out personal information.
  • Ensure your screen name does not contain personal information like your name or birthday.
  • You could even come up with a cool name to use in games that’s completely different to your real name.
  • Keep a record of anything they do that makes you uncomfortable, you might need it in the future to report them.
  • Report them as soon as you suspect they have bad intentions, you can find out how and where in loads of the most popular games here.

For more information and support for gaming and gamers, check out the our Unite Gaming hub here.

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If you are being abused when you are playing Fortnite, please click here on how to report it.

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One of the main things you probably hear from your parents when you turn on your console or computer is that you should “go out and see your friends”. This is because one of the biggest misconceptions of gaming is that it is not a social activity, but you aren’t spending the time alone, you’re playing with those exact same friends online.

We all had to do this during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, so we’ve become pretty used to it now.

It probably causes a few discussions and arguments in your house, so we’ve put together some of the biggest bonuses gaming can have for your social skills.

It helps you learn to lose well

Ever got so mad at your sibling when you lose to them at Monopoly that you thought you would never play again? Maybe chucked a controller halfway across the room? Yeah, that happens. But gaming regularly helps you learn to lose well, and there is nothing quite like a sore loser.

It helps you build team working skills 

Working in a team in an online game helps you build skills you need in life. Things like working in a team for a common goal, and sharing the glory when you win are things you will always need throughout your life.

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It builds your confidence 

Games challenge us and make us solve problems in different ways, you know that hard level it took you AGES to complete? Didn’t finally completing it make you feel amazing and that you could tackle the rest of the game?

The better we get at gaming, the more confidence we have in ourselves and our abilities. This new found confidence can help us outside of gaming in so many areas – meeting new people, trying out new things and even applying for jobs.

You can meet lots of new people in online games

Meeting new people is one of the most important things about online gaming and the social skills it builds. The best thing about that as well is that you are guaranteed to have at least a couple of things in common given you met doing the same hobby. However, if you are concerned that any of your online friends might not be who they seem, read this about how to stay safe online.

And watching Twitch streams 

Twitch and YouTube live streaming is another great way to chat to new people about online gaming. You can meet and talk to new people in the chats and even have the opportunity to speak with your favourite gamers on the platforms. You can ask them questions about their game play to improve your own and generally have a space to enjoy your hobby in a different format, in a group setting.

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And that’s all only when you play alone in your house

All of these are just when you play online but you’re still sitting playing alone. Of course, it doesn’t include when you have all your mates over for a tournament, or even just one or two for a bit of casual game-playing after school. It’s a great way to bond over something you have a shared love of, and even have the opportunity to talk about some important things in life. Many conversations can become a lot easier when you are occupied doing something else at the same time.

There’s also gaming events!

You’re playing games, loving life and finding your people in the online community. There’s also hundreds of events you can visit as a spectator or a player.

Gaming competitions, conventions and launch events allow people to meet in real life and share their love of gaming. You get to experience new places celebrating something you really love, with people that do too.


If you want to find out what gaming can do for your mental health, [read this], and if you’d like somewhere to talk about your love of gaming then join our community!


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The internet is pretty sweet right? We can all agree on that. But for people who are dealing with online hate, it can be a really rubbish place to spend time. The comments section on most articles, photos, YouTube videos and and celebrity Instagram’s are pretty much a minefield of tough to read insults or outright lies, and when that is directed at you, it can feel overwhelming and pretty damn lonely.

The most important thing to remember if you are going through online abuse is that you are not alone. We’ve got your back and that’s why we’ve created a toolkit of how to deal with online hate.

1) Breathe 

Getting angry after receiving some nasty comments is pretty unsurprising, especially when a lot of them are written just to upset you. Using breathing techniques will help get your emotions under control and give you a minute to think about what you want to do next.

Try following the GIF below – breathe in as the circle expands and breathe out as it gets smaller, and repeat. It might not have you feeling completely chill, but it should help to take the edge off and clear your mind a little. 

 

2) Think 

Being a keyboard warrior can be a good thing when it comes to saving the planet, or fighting injustice, but not so much when it comes to dealing with online hate. It’s natural to want to jump on your phone and start tapping away a reply that is both hilarious and devastating, but you might find yourself quickly stuck in a feud that even a drama channel would probably stay out of.

So, instead of insulting them back, think about what you really want to happen as a result of this – the chances are, a long drawn out argument in your DM’s is probably not the one. 

3) Report it 

Everyone should have a pretty basic understanding of when and where to report stuff online and on different platforms. You can find a super quick guide to where you can do it on the big 3 (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) in our Ultimate Guide to Cyberbullying here.

You can also report it to us here if you have already tried reporting to social media sites with no luck and we will get it taken down for you. Basically, we’ve done all the work for you so you can just get it sorted!

4) Take a Break

If it’s on social media, take a break from it. We know it’s often easier said than done, when friends are organising their boss weekend plans in IG DM’s, but it will be pretty crucial to you feeling better. It can feel really overwhelming when you are dealing with online hate, but taking a break from where it is happening will help you realise that your world is much bigger than your inbox. 

Try leaving your phone at home when you hang out with your pals or put it somewhere safe and out of sight when you are chilling with the family, an turn off your social media notifications. Trust us, a little bit of distance from it will make the world of difference.

If you have a big following who expect to see some new pictures uploaded every day, try using a scheduling service so you can still take your much-needed break without your audience getting rowdy for their avocado toast pic.

4) Take Care of You 

Dealing with online hate can be really stressful. Try some stress management techniques to make sure you are looking after yourself through it all. This epic list of 101 Ways to Chill Out and Reduce Stress will give you some super speedy suggestions for getting on top of it, and you can also read our Ultimate Guide to Stress to understand a bit more about it. 

A bit of self-care goes a long way when you are dealing with online hate. Make sure you take a bit of time for yourself to do something you love or that you find relaxing that doesn’t involve being glued to your phone.

Why not try taking a long walk, practising a new makeup look or hairstyle, invite a friend out for a kick about or watch your fave movie complete with a gigantic bowl of popcorn. Doing what you love will help you focus on yourself rather than the situation and remind you that you are so much more than the hate you’re getting. 

6) Talk to Someone 

Getting online abuse can make you really angry but it can also make you feel pretty lonely. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone in this, and we’re certainly here if you wanna get it off your chest. Click here to join our community and get advice from real people like you and our trained mentors. 

Otherwise, talking to a trusted friend, parent, teacher, or colleague will help you have an outlet for what is going on and ensures you will have someone to support you through it.


Want to learn more?

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We know from our research that up to 7 in 10 young people experience cyberbullying before the age of 18. Cyberbullying comes in many different forms and is something that is totally subjective to the recipient.

A common form of cyberbullying is in-game abuse (harassment from other gamers whilst in online mode). Dealing with bullying in a game and in-game abuse can be extremely upsetting, distressing and draining – and it also spoils what is a very enjoyable hobby!

It is often hard to identify the appropriate course of action to take to address and improve the situation. With this in mind, we have compiled a short list of things you should and shouldn’t do if you are at the receiving end of in-game abuse. Happy gaming and GG!

1. Don’t respond with aggression.

Often reacting in an aggressive manner can make the situation worse and can put you at risk of further abuse. If you feel it is a safe and appropriate action to take, maybe try calmly communicating with the person who is doing the cyberbullying.

Remember to challenge the behaviour, not the person – so instead of accusing the person of being a ‘bully’, explain why their actions or words are causing you distress. For example, instead of saying “you’re upsetting me”, you could say “what you said/did has upset me”.  If the bullying still persists after taking this action, see point 2.

2. Do block/report the person that is cyberbullying you.

You can block and report the users who are bullying you at any time – remember that these options are in place to support and protect gamers from abuse. The type of gaming environment you are in will determine which course of action is best to take.

Speak with other gamers and check your headset to see if you can activate options to mute/disable audio chat and turn off the screen text. You could also contact the game administrators or moderators and report the user.

3. Don’t have your personal information available.

We recommend that you keep your privacy settings high and do not connect with anybody who you do not know offline. People may not always be who they say they are and you could be putting yourself and those that you care about at risk.

Never give away personal details like your full name, telephone, address etc to someone you have not met offline either. If somebody is exhibiting threatening behaviour, or has your personal information and is giving you the impression that your safety might be at risk, contact the police or a trusted adult immediately.

4. Don’t take it personally.

Remember that the person who is abusing you in-game is the one with the issue, not you. More importantly, remember that it is very likely they don’t even know you! What you are experiencing is in no way your fault; people experience bullying not because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, appearance, disability or any other unique factor; it is because of the attitude towards the factor. The only thing possible to change is attitudes – you are perfect the way you are.

5. Don’t seek revenge.

Gandhi once said, “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Think about the repercussions of your actions – what can really be gained by seeking revenge? You might even get yourself in trouble with the game’s moderators. It is far better to save yourself from the possibility of further trauma and focus on the good things in your life. Look at how you can move forward in a positive way, putting the person who is cyberbullying you firmly in the past.

6. Don’t isolate yourself from friends and family.

A common, sometimes unconscious reaction to being bullied is to shut down and withdraw from your loved ones. We begin to distance ourselves both emotionally and physically from the very people we need support from.

Depriving yourself of any sort of support or friendship certainly won’t do anything to resolve the issue. We know it might feel like the best thing to do, but it will only make things worse in the long run by silencing you and reducing your self-esteem. Try to keep up with your normal social life and activities you enjoy – the distraction if anything, will help lift your spirits and remind you of the positive things in your life.

7. Do tell someone.

Even if you don’t want to report it, it is important you share with someone what you are going through – you shouldn’t go through something like this alone as it is extremely stressful, and can be emotionally draining to endure bullying.

This stress can have an impact on all areas of your life, including your mental wellbeing, ability to communicate with others, performance in school, self-esteem and confidence. It is therefore incredibly important that you tell somebody you trust about what you are going through; it doesn’t even have to be an adult – it could be a friend or somebody at Ditch the Label. It is vital, during this time, that you have a support system and people who you can rely on when you are feeling low, or unable to cope.

8. Do keep a record.

Keeping a record of all interactions with griefers (a player who deliberately harasses or irritates other players) is very important. Be vigilant from the beginning and screenshot anything offensive. This is your evidence when talking with game administrators. You have a responsibility to yourself and other gamers – you never know who you might inadvertently be protecting from future abuse by being proactive right now.

9. Do take some time out.

When you are very immersed in a game it can feel all-consuming – in a good way! However, when an unexpected griefer is thrown into the mix, it can quickly become a very negative and overwhelming experience.

Maybe take some time out, step away from the game and remove the cause of stress. Give yourself a chance to see things a little clearer – that way you can decide what the best plan of action is.

It is important during this time, that you remember to take good care of your health and mental wellbeing. Little things like eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting a good night’s sleep, relaxing and having quality time with friends and family can really improve physical and mental health, which will, in turn, reduce stress. Reductions in stress increase your clarity of vision, allowing you to better analyse difficult situations, which will make them much easier to deal with.

If you would prefer our easier to read version, please click here

Join our support community here where we have mentors that can advise and support.

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