Life in the XBox Age Fostering a Sense of Community

It seems that the residents of one large New Jersey HOA don’t want to come out and play. The association’s management cancelled their scheduled Easter egg hunt this past March because only a handful of their 700-plus families wanted to participate. Other associations are having an equally hard time getting residents to actively participate in any sort of scheduled activity, from potlucks to picnics.

Unfortunately, the symptoms that are ailing these associations can be directly related to a (completely anecdotal and unscientific) condition called “electronicitis,” a growing affliction plaguing many hard-working Americans.

According to (much more empirical, and very scientific) statistics from the Entertainment Software Association, 67 percent of American heads of households now play computer and video games. And once they sit down to play, they are staying put for longer periods of time. The average adult plays more than seven hours per week, up almost two hours from a few years ago. Even the senior market is getting in on the action with 24 percent of Americans over the age of 50 playing video games, an increase of nine percent over the last eight years.

And that’s just the grownups. Add into the equation that a study in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences found that nature recreation has fallen by 18 to 25 percent in the last decade, which means there are less Americans visiting our parks and recreation sites.

Other findings suggest that Americans are working harder and at much longer hours, and when they finally arrive home at night, they tend to turn on their computers, video games, iPods or televisions as their primary source of entertainment. They tend to like to stay put after getting home—the idea of socializing with neighbors seems like a taxing proposition. The bottom line is, homeowners associations must be more innovative and persuasive than ever before in getting residents off their couch, out the front door and participating in association events. But don’t look at the residents to be the ones to make the first move.

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