Worried about your child’s gaming addiction? Here is what govt says you can do


Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The education ministry on Friday shared advisories for parents and teachers with respect to online gaming and the threats it can pose towards children if they are not monitored. The comprehensive set of advisories by the ministry of education aims to ensure that children understand the concept of in-game purchases, learn to protect their identities online and also understand the addictive nature of gaming from a young age.

The education ministry asked the parents and teachers to ensure that children should overcome all online gaming downsides with the associated mental and physical stress to children.

“Playing games leads to a serious gaming addiction which has been considered as a gaming disorder. The game is designed in a way that each level is more complicated and complex than the previous one. This causes a player to push themselves to the limit in order to progress in the game,” the ministry said in a release. “Therefore, playing online games with no restriction and self-limits leads many players to become addicted and are eventually diagnosed with gaming disorder. The gaming companies also emotionally compel the child to buy more levels and almost force in-app purchases,” it further added.

Here are the dos and don’ts shared by the Union ministry for education:

Don’ts –

  • Not allowing in-game purchases without parental consent
  • Giving personal information over the Internet while downloading games or making gaming profiles
  • Communicate with strangers, including adults, through webcam, private messaging or online chat, since it increases the risk of contact from online abusers, or bullying from other players
  • Credit and debit card registration on apps for subscriptions
  • Not placing an upper limit on expenditure per transaction
  • Letting children buy directly from the laptop or mobile they use for gaming.
  • Downloading software and games from unknown websites
  • Click links, images and pop-ups in websites as they may contain viruses and harm the computer, and may contain age-inappropriate content
  • Engage in games for long hours without taking a break, considering health aspects and addiction

Dos –

  • While gaming if something wrong happens, stop immediately and take a screenshot and report
  • Ensure the children use a screen name or avatar
  • Play with them to see who they are communicating with
  • Use antivirus and spyware programmes and configure web browsers securely using a firewall
  • Activate parental controls and safety features on the device or in the app or browser as it helps restrict access to certain content
  • Activate parental controls and safety features on the device or in the app or browser as it helps limit spending on in-game purchases
  • Check the age rating of the games your child is playing
  • Parents must keep their eyes open if children – increase in the time they spend online especially social media; if they seem to change screens on their device when approached; they become withdrawn or angry, after using the internet or sending text messages; their device suddenly has many new phone numbers and e-mail contacts
  • Install internet gateway at home which has features like monitoring, logging and controlling the types of content that the children can access
  • Keep an eye on falling grades and social behaviour
  • Play alongside your child to understand how they are handling their personal information
  • Explain that some features in online games are used to encourage more play and spending
  • Discuss the ill-effects of gambling
  • Teachers can ensure that children are sensitised about the pros and cons of internet and social media usage

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