The Virtual World: A Curse or a Blessing?


Naomi Engle

These days, it’s nearly impossible for teens to go a day without checking their phones. With the advancements that modern technology has to offer, most people, especially teenagers, have a second life in the virtual world, which’s much more rewarding than the real world but has its unique challenges of living in. Despite the push towards balancing time outside and time on the screen, many teens, especially in the Covid-19 pandemic, have found themselves struggling with mental health, and much of it is tech-related. In this virtual world where communication is instant and whatever you post lasts forever, is social outreach worth the addiction and downsides?

Before any of the pros or cons, it’s essential to weigh the statistics and see just how vital technology has become teenagers. In a survey conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Chicago, 68% of parents said that their teens used technology, especially social media, more frequently during the pandemic, and 39% of parents agreed that they were more concerned about addiction since they were before the pandemic. These numbers match with the increasingly-apparent fact that, in such a stressful time, most teenagers instinctively turn to the online world for advice and relaxation instead of real-life solutions. Why? For one thing, technology and social media are not confined to the interaction and pressure of talking to family or playing games. Teens can play video games by themselves, listen to music using apps like Spotify, or surf the web for random videos and articles. Many teenagers, myself included, have felt limited by the pandemic and confined by the new stereotype that comes with parents’ and teens’ conflicting ideas of what is fun or relaxing. This has led to teenagers isolating themselves from family for fear of those tough conversations that burn them out at the end of the day, although they might be seen as essential and straightforward to some parents. A deep discussion about their day is much harder to “put away” than a phone or an app, and especially during the pandemic. However, many teens are trying to find new ways to reach out and have fun socially, many others are not used to or ready for reentering the long-term commitment that relationships and interactions require.

Another reason that social media is quickly overtaking family time is the wide variety of activities. Online, there are millions of people to talk to, thousands of games to play, hundreds of apps to explore, and dozens of recipes, videos, and articles to enjoy. To teens, the online world has become their world, their outreach when they can’t see friends or play sports, and now that the real world is returning to normalcy, many teens are reluctant to come back. It’s not relatively as easy to see the opportunities or sparks of magic in a politically-chaotic, confusing, ever-changing world, as crucial as the off-screen time is. 

So is there a healthy balance between technology and the natural world? That’s a question that can’t be answered easily, for as more and more advancements are made to the former world, it becomes harder to find and even compromise. But the first step to establishing healthy communication is cooperation, and one of the best ways to do that and enjoy the magic of technology is playing with family. Here is a list of a few video games that can be played with family. It’s up to you to find balance with screen time, but enjoying an evening together trying to beat a high score is a first step that anyone can enjoy.


Portal 2


Rayman Legends

Super Mario 3D World


Mario Kart 8


Work Cited