Teen boys shun real life adventure for computer games

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One in four teenage boys has never had a real-life adventure and a third admit most of the adventurous experiences they’ve had involved gaming and virtual reality, according to a poll.

A survey of 1,000 13- to 18-year-olds conducted by OnePoll for the National Citizen Service found over half are afraid of trying new experiences, over a third prefer spending time indoors over outdoor experiences and over a quarter believe an online adventure is as satisfying as real life.

There is nothing in the digital world, even virtual reality, that can match the complex and multi-sensory experiences of a real-life situation

Psychotherapist

Teenage girls are far less likely than their male counterparts to consider themselves brave – 40 per cent of girls would describe themselves as such, compared with 52 per cent of boys – but are more likely to have had a real-life adventure, with 18 per cent of girls admitting they had never had one compared with 22 per cent of boys.

When teenagers were asked to recall their most memorable experience from the past 12 months, 27 per cent of boys confessed it involved playing a new video game, compared with nine per cent of girls. More than one in 10 (12 per cent) of teens said their most memorable experience in recent months was watching a new series on Netflix and eight per cent even answered discovering Face Swap, the app that allows users to “switch” faces with a friend in a photo.

“There is nothing in the digital world, even virtual reality, that can match the complex and multi-sensory experiences of a real-life situation,” one psychotherapist said of the findings.

“Live adventures offer the opportunity to encounter new and exciting environments where individuals engage in assessing real-world risk alongside enjoying the satisfaction of resolving physical and interpersonal challenges,” said Dr Aaron Balick, author of The Psychodynamics of Social Networking.

“These experiences not only create lifelong memories due to the high level of emotional complexity and full five-senses engagement, but are an important part of the developmental process for encountering challenges, building resilience, and assessing risk and reward in future real-world situations,” Dr Balick added.