Online gaming has been a major of cause of concern in the recent months as children are eventually getting consumed in the gaming world. This has compelled the Indian government to take action and issue guidelines for the safety of the children when they engage in online gaming.
The Covid-19 pandemic led to several changes as children were kept confined in their homes and education went for a toss. As a result, many children were captivated by online gaming. The rise of online games is evident from the fact that number of hours spent on mobile phones is also increasing at an alarming rate. Even though, the pandemic has led to the growth of eSports in several regions, online gaming comes with several follies which cannot be neglected.
Government releases advisory for safe online gaming of children
The instances of children of who are yet to step in the age of adulthood getting addicted by online games have been in the limelight for a long period of time. Children also getting attracted by games which promote gambling or which urge them to spend money. To curb this, the government is taking a slew of measures. The guidelines are directed towards parent and teachers so that they can ensure that children are not entrapped in the gaming world.
- While playing online games, if something wrong happened, stop immediately and take a screenshot (using the ‘print screen’ button on the keyboard) and report it.
- Help your child to protect their privacy online, get them to use a screen name (avatar) that does not reveal their real name.
- Use antivirus/spyware programs 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 and limit spending on in-game purchases.
- Notify if a stranger tries to start a conversation about something inappropriate or requests personal information.
- Check the age rating of any games your child is playing.
- In case of bullying, encourage people not to respond and keep a record of the harassing messages and report the behaviour to the game site administrator/block, mute or ‘unfriend’ that person from their player’s list, or turn off the in-game chat function.
- Play alongside your child to get a better sense of how they are handling their personal information and who they are communicating with.
- Help your child 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.
- Always ensure that your child accesses internet from a computer placed in the family space.
- Keep your eyes open for:
- Unusually secretive behaviour, mostly related to their online activity
- A sudden increase in the time they spend online, especially social media
- They seem to change screens on their devices when approached
- They become withdrawn or angry after using the internet or sending text messages.
- Their device suddenly has many new phone numbers ·and email contacts.
- Install an internet gateway at home that has features like monitoring, logging, and controlling the types of content that children can access.
- Teachers need to keep an eye on falling grades and the social behaviour of the students.
- If teachers observe something that may seem suspicious or alarming, they should inform the school authorities immediately.
- Teachers should ensure that children are sensitized about the pros and cons of the internet from time to time.
- Teachers should train students for the secure configuration of web browsers and web applications.
- Do not allow in-game 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.
- Do not let children buy directly from the laptop or mobile they use for gaming.
- Advise children not to download software and games from unknown websites.
- Tell them to be beware of clicking links, images and pop-ups in the websites as they may contain a virus and harm the computer, and may contain age-inappropriate content.
- Advise them not to give personal information over the Internet while downloading games.
- They should never share personal information with people in games and on gaming profile.
- Advise them not to communicate with strangers, including adults, through web cam, private messaging or online chat, as it increases the risk of contact from online abusers, or bullying from other players.
- Advise them against engaging in game for long hours without taking a break considering health aspects and addiction.
Following the government of China which had also put several restrictions to online gaming for minors, the Indian government wishes to ensure that the drawbacks reported in online gaming is brought down to a certain extent. With these measures being taken, it can be hoped that gaming addiction and disorder among children can be kept at bay.