- Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources you can turn to
- This week, we help a student who wants to know how to maintain online friendships, even while spending more time offline
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I used to play online games a lot and I made a few friends. Although we have not had many in-person interactions, we used to meet every day on the internet to play games together and chat about random things while we played. They are fun to play with, and I felt less lonely when I could spend time with them. But recently, I have decided to reduce the amount of time I spend playing games. How do I maintain my friendships with my gaming friends?
Thanks, A Lonely Gamer
Dear Lonely Gamer,
Not only is online gaming a popular leisure activity for many young people, it has become a go-to way for some to stay connected with their friends during the pandemic. Since everyone has been forced to stay indoors, meeting people online is the easiest way to chat.
I assume you have bonded with your gaming friends, who are of special importance to you, and now you fear that you will lose them when you cut back on your time online. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Be honest with your friends
Talking with your friends about your thoughts and needs honestly is a positive way to maintain a friendship. Explain your reasons for cutting back on your gaming time and your concerns about losing touch. This will help your friends learn a little more about you and will help avoid unnecessary speculation.
Be open to change
We are all constantly changing throughout the different stages of our lives, and we may have to shift our perspective to see the positive side of these changes. Maybe you can invite your buddies to do something new together to maintain your friendships. Find a new way to bond with each other outside games, such as chatting through Zoom hangouts.
Be curious about new experiences
There are lots of opportunities to meet new people. Picking up new hobbies gives you a chance to make new friends and expand your outlook on life. The friendships you have built over gaming are special to you because they have allowed you to find a sense of community, but the same bonds can be formed over other activities too. Keep exploring other hobbies, because it is an excellent way to meet new friends and enrich your life.
You can also share your concerns with someone you trust and come up with more new ideas for ways to keep in touch.
Best of luck, Friend of a Friend
This was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.