Watch for secretive behaviour, tendency to switch screens: govt advisory on online gaming among children

What is the news?

The Centre has issued an advisory to parents and teachers on the threats posed by online gaming, observing that the closure of schools due to the lockdown has caused an increase in children using cell phones and the internet.

Issued by: Ministry of Education

It comes days after Rajya Sabha Chairman had asked the Centre to take note of an MP’s observation in the floor of the House that the Govt should regulate the sector to prevent gaming addiction among children.

Teachers have been asked to ensure that the advisory is publicised well to help make children understand the mental and physical stress that gaming can trigger.

What are the key points of the advisory?

Gaming addiction: It notes that playing online games leads to a serious gaming addiction, which has also been considered as a gaming disorder, as most online games are 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. Therefore, playing online games with no restriction and self-limits leads many players to become addicted and are eventually diagnosed with gaming disorder.

It also mentions that the gaming companies emotionally compel the child to buy more levels and almost force in-app purchases.

What are the recommendations?

Furthermore, it lists a number of dos and don’ts for parents and teachers. It also recommends that companies should not allow online game related purchases without parental consent.

To avoid in-app purchases:

OTP based payment methods may be adopted as per RBI’s guidelines

Avoid credit/debit cards registration on apps for subscriptions.

Place an upper limit on expenditure per transaction.

Suggestions for parents:

Parents should look out for unusually secretive behaviour of children related to their online activity like, any sudden increase in the time they spend online, especially social media, and tendency to switch screens on their device when approached.

Help children understand that some features in online games are used to encourage more play and spending. Talk to them about gambling, what it is and its consequences both online and in the physical world.

For more on gaming disorder, kindly read the following articles:

– Gaming disorder increases during pandemic

WHO to classify gaming disorder as mental health condition

Source: This post is based on the article “Watch for secretive behaviour, tendency to switch screens: govt advisory on online gaming among children” published in The Indian Express on 11th Dec 2021.

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