Games Our Kid’s Play? : What we should know?
‘Children’s games are hardly games. Children are never more serious than when they play.’ – Michel de Montaigne
Till the early 90’s games we played as children were fairly traditional. Almost unchanged across the ages they served as a bridge across the generation-gap that could reach out across even four generations of the same family! However this changed with the arrival of the Video-games. We got introduced to the magical world of Super Mario & Contra and the disconnect began. The computer driven digital age followed by the net driven Virtual age further widened the gulf. As the games became more interactive; the real and virtual intermingled. Gen-Y completed the transition with consummate ease as they searched for ‘Pokemon’s’ on streets and played Football on the T.V. screens. While parents looked on mesmerised with pride and joy but usually without understanding
Now a dark and deadly lining in the marvellous cloud of online gaming became obvious. Some children unintentionally became victims of a new form of threat. Conventional games affect the dopaminergic reward pathway in the brain encouraging over a period of time the creation of an compulsive loop which cause a gamer to spend more and more time playing. However a new group of online games that seem to prey on the unsuspecting, impressionable, naïve and vulnerable minds of our kids with horrifying results seemed to crop up. Suddenly Blue whales and Momos went from things we cherished to the stuff our nightmares were made of. This became even more important in the context of ‘fake news’ & Net neutrality.’
As we are forced to take a fresh look at the Games our kids play; let’s try and look at some facts about online gaming:
- Statistics-An estimated 2.2 billion active gamers across the world.
- Platform-Online games can be played anywhere from gaming consoles, computers, mobile devices, etc.
- Requirements-However most require regular access to net and good Wi-Fi speeds.
- Types-There are several types of games including First Person Shooters, Strategy games, Massively Multiplayer Online Role playing games, etc. Some may not even be conventional games but rather take the form of challenges or dares that the person has to perform and proof uploaded .eg. Kiki challenge.
- Players-Some games can be played as single person while others require a group of friends or teams and may also involve interacting with unknown strangers.
- Safeguards-Most countries including India already have or are in the process of placing safeguards against nefarious activity on the net.
Let’s understand that it may not be possible to continuously monitor your child’s every possible move on the net or regulate every game they play and whom they play with. Also important to understand that it is easier to watch for ‘tell-tale signs in the real world rather than the virtual one.
Here is a list of things that you can do:
- For the P.C.-Switching on a parental control mode or app and installing a good anti-virus or an anti-malware.
- Know the Game –Take an interest in the games that has taken your child’s attention, it’s a good thing to bond over and keeps you informed at the same time.
- Screen time-Keep an eye on the number of hours your child spends on ‘Screen’ and having a digital detox.
- During gaming –Watch for sudden abrupt temper outburst or impulsive acts especially after a ‘gaming’ session.
- Safe space-Create a ‘safe space’ were your child can speak freely with you without the fear of judgement or reprimand. Preserve the sanctity of that trust.
- Create a support group-Keep yourself informed of who their friends are and reach out to them or their parents. Remember you are in the same boat and that kids gossip just like adults.
- Control the Wi-Fi speed-Remember that Wi-Fi speed is a bargaining chip that you can control so use it wisely and to your advantage.
- Sports:Offer them an alternative by involving them in outdoor activities or sports.
- Love and Care-Don’t tire of telling your children that you love them … they are never going to tire of hearing that reassurance.
New advances means new challenges. But please do not forget that despite all this Depression, Substance abuse and developmental disorders still remain the most likely threat to your child or their childhood. So if you see a child in distress or find yourself in doubt …please reach out to the appropriate authorities or a mental health professional nearby … they shall be happy to help.
Till then …Happy gaming!!!