An interesting (and sorta depressing) article came out of the Washington Post last week on the effect that increasingly advanced video games are having on today's youth (and young men in particular). It's not the usual story of the violent or sexual content of games molding young minds for the worse; rather, it focuses on data that shows more and more young men are choosing to spend their time playing video games instead of finding work.

The article states that it's a bigger problem than unemployed and less educated young men spending a lot of time with video games. Many of these men have found more satisfaction in games than in the often low-paying jobs that are available to them, and, enabled by a greater percentage of young people still living at home, are instead filling their time with games in lieu of entering into the workforce.

Sam NixonColorado Daily ColumnistCliff Grassmick / May 17, 2012
Sam Nixon Colorado Daily Columnist Cliff Grassmick / May 17, 2012 (Sam Nixon)

"As of last year, 22 percent of men between the ages of 21 and 30 with less than a bachelor's degree reported not working at all in the previous year — up from only 9.5 percent in 2000," the article states.

The most alarming part of the piece are the indicators that many of these same young men are actually reporting that they're happier with their arrangements, using the small increments of instant gratification to replace disappointments that surround having to work low-wage jobs or pressure from parents.


In a way it makes sense; games are designed to entertain, and it's easier to stay connected and engrossed for cheaper than it's ever been in the past, with free-to-play games like League of Legends and DotA serving up potentially thousands of hours of entertainment without paying a dime. Add that to easier access to media from sources like Netflix and Spotify, and a strong driver to spur people into the world and the workforce is taken away — boredom.

But this kind of happiness (if it can really be classified as such; it more resembles rationalized distraction) isn't sustainable, and it's setting up a large part of a generation for a fall when the tedium of entertaining yourself all day starts to well up. "Rude awakening" sounds a little callous, but that's exactly what waits a few years down the line when such a large percentage of young men realize the implications of a delayed entrance into the workforce and autonomy.

And don't confuse such an awakening to an awareness or a call to action to get one's collective shit together; more likely it'll mean increased disaffection and depression on a large scale, with real societal implications.

Scrolling down through the comments section of the Washington Post article, you'll see the usual suspects aired out like dirty laundry: Enabling parents, a lack of responsibility, arrested development. Many fingers pointed toward causes but none toward solutions. The first step in coming up with a useful solution is recognizing that the problem needs to be thought through rather than chastised, even if it goes against reasoning to drum up empathy for these young men.

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