Can playing a video game or using social media help a child to feel supported and connected to others? How does engagement with technology facilitate the development of social-emotional learning skills such as building relationships and taking the perspective of others? In this special LearningWorks for Kids series, we explore how the positive psychology skill of connectedness can lead to a sense of well-being and improve social-emotional learning skills.
Connectedness: Close social connections that help people feel safe, supported, and grounded in their lives with others.
Social connectedness can take place among family, friends, and acquaintances but can also stretch beyond one’s social circles and even to other communities. The quality of connectedness can be affected by the duration of a relationship, frequency of interaction with the other person, knowledge of the other person’s goals, level of trust and self-disclosure between participants, and familiarity with the social network in which these connections take place.
Games help practice, support, or acquire connectedness when they:
- facilitate meaningful connections in virtual worlds such as the creation of clans, teams, and guilds.
- feature trust-building gameplay wherein players must depend on one another in order to succeed and advance the game.
- offer mutually beneficial actions that bring value to participants working together.
- get players excited to talk to their peers about the game over social networks or in the real world.
- require players to seek advice outside the game such as through forums or wikis or by discussing the game with friends.
- encourage players to offer help and advice to less experienced players.
- offer mechanisms that support gratitude and random acts of kindness, where giving and getting help from other players is common.
Examples of video games and apps that promote connectedness and social-emotional learning include:
- SuperBetter – SuperBetter helps you achieve your health goals — or recover from an illness or injury — by increasing your personal resilience. Resilience means staying curious, optimistic and motivated, even in the face of the toughest challenges.
- Connectedness – By gamifying self-improvement, SuperBetter provides tools for people to enrich their lives using game-like mechanics and tools, allowing “players” to “level-up” through the completion of tasks targeting the issue they have identified. Players of SuperBetter can then interact with one another on their shared journey, offering support, empathy, and encouragement to one another during their shared journey of self-improvement.
- Connectedness – Teamwork is a huge factor in Destiny, so much so that there are specific levels — referred to in-game as “Raids” — that are designed so that collaboration is the key to victory. These levels are meant to be completed with a team of six players, and the challenges require holding checkpoints on the map, battling back waves of enemies, and taking down incredibly strong boss enemies that take full teams to defeat, even with six-times the firepower. In order to win, players must collaborate and communicate over voice-chat (a feature highly encouraged — even demanded — among the player community).