The Dark Side of Online Gaming: Understanding the Risks and Empowering Parents

This article was written in collaboration with Mr. Muhammad Farooq, Director WAD, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

After COVID the world has shifted people physically to the digital world where people have started preferring online shopping, and e-education, likewise youngsters are indulging more in online gaming instead of outdoor activities. The latest Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs) are gaining popularity due to intensive social interaction through video, voice, text, etc. However, this has posed risks to young people who can experience abuse/harassment online from other gamers, particularly when players are extensively engaged while playing online games.

Read Also: Best Offline Open World Games For Android

Online gaming is getting rapid popularity among youngsters, hence, parents need to be well aware of negative impacts to better tackle the situation. In Pakistan, multiple incidents of suicides by teenagers, killing others in aggression by online gamers have been reported in the media. The issue of violence and anti-social behavior arises due to excessive online games playing as concluded by different researchers. Mr. Arthur Cassidy, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, says that growing attachment to gaming devices among children leads to suicide or self-harm. Many other research studies have shown that children’s excessive involvement in online gaming deprives them of physical activities therefore they face problems like isolation, introversion, misbehaving with other family members, sleeping disorders, anxiety, depression etc.

Online gaming addiction mainly occurs due to less attention from parents. The kids who suffer loneliness, get instant relief by playing online games. It takes them away from reality to fantasy and imaginary worlds where everything seems to be controlled by their thoughts and imagination. Resultantly, they get frustrated, which leads them to violence, self-harm, and even raises suicidal thoughts. Besides, chances of getting blackmailed, bullying by others (both offline and online), and theft of personal information also increase while playing online games with online predators.

Measures to be taken:

Parents need to be extremely conscious w.r.t online activities of kids by opting following workable measures:

  • Always spare time for your kids and even be involved in their social activities. Prove yourself as a best friend so that kids may inform you times in case they encounter any online danger.
  • Always encourage and arrange physical activities for your kids plus choose schools having facilities for outdoor activities. Parents should be well aware of their kids’ friends, especially about their character, behaviors etc.
  • Before purchasing online games, parents need to check ratings of the games from the concerned department like the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) and then accordingly select the appropriate game as per the age of the kid.
  • Initially, parents should also play online games with children so as to understand content of the game as well as reaction of the children while playing the game.
  • For having better eye on kid’s online activities, computer be placed in common areas. Instead of giving new mobile on permanent basis to your kids, it is better to give them your own mobile solely for that particular purpose on temporary basis. This will ensure a direct check on their activities.
  • Teach your kids not to share personal information like password, bank accounts, and pictures with anyone else.
  • Learn and implement parental control features to implement time limits, website restrictions, and permit safe applications for kid

Also read:

Protecting Your Children Against Online Threats: All You Need to Know!


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