When a child plays video games, parents inevitably think about how harmful it can be. Will this game affect the child’s behaviour? Will he/she start suffering from nightmares? Will there be ineradicable fears? What if the child is already addicted?
In fact, research conducted last May by global cybersecurity company Kaspersky showed that four-in-10 of parents from Southeast Asia (SEA) believe that their children are “more grumpy than usual” after a gaming session.
Titled “More Connected Than Ever Before: How We Build Our Digital Comfort Zones”, the fresh survey among 760 respondents from the region confirmed that kids are spending more time online given the current pandemic situation. A total of 63% of parents surveyed agree on this while only 20% refute this observation.
“Parents are raising kids who are digital natives, children who are born exposed to digital devices and the internet. This generation gap often leads to miscommunication as it is a common scenario when a child knows more trend and tricks online than the mom or the dad. The lockdown measures highlighted this with the increase of reliance on the internet and how parents now need to juggle work and parenting at the same time inside their homes,” says Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky.
“While it is understandable for parents to have their worries about their kids’ habits online, parental fears associated with video games are sometimes quite objective and sometimes a little far-fetched. There are undeniable harms with too much of it but several researches have also discovered how playing games online can benefit kids. After all, everything is good but moderation and guidance is definitely necessary,” he adds.
To help parents navigate their kids’ gaming habits, Kaspersky today shares each of the potential problems associated with video games and suggest solutions for mom and dad’s reference.
Fear: a child will be a black sheep if games are banned
Parents who are especially afraid of video games are seriously thinking about complete gaming ban in the family. At the same time, such parents are often stopped by the fear that this will lead to the fact that the child will be a black sheep at school if everyone plays games, and he/she does not have such an opportunity.
Should you be afraid?
A ban on computer games is not a good decision: a child, whose peers play videogames, will definitely feel like an outcast. In addition, games are a new kind of art, it will be not only interesting for a child to touch it, but it can also be very useful, especially if the parents can correctly direct him/her.
As with many situations, banning is not an option. Parents should not prohibit the child’s activity in video games, but effectively control it, using special software and device settings, as well as communicating with the child and explaining the rules.
Fear: harm to eyesight and posture
Many parents worry that if the child spends a lot of time playing, his eyesight may be damaged. Others worry that prolonged sitting at a computer or leaning over a smartphone can have a negative effect on a child’s posture.
Should you be afraid?
Yes, especially if the child has a predisposition. Already existing vision problems are a reason to organize the gaming process more carefully. As for posture, it can also be threatened especially if the child does not play sports.
- Installing a good monitor can help alleviate the problem with eyesight. Manufacturers of modern screens are trying to find a solution that will minimize the harm caused by the monitor to the human eye.
- Remember about a comfortable position while playing and working on a computer. A good chair, a table of the right height, a comfortable posture and a good distance from the monitor will help your child’s vision and posture.
- Of course, the way to take care of the vision of a child playing is to limit the time of the game. At the same time, it is important that such restrictions are made both at the program level and at the level of agreements between you and the child.
Check with your doctor if your child is seen by an ophthalmologist, how much time to spend a day with the device, or if the child is not seen by an eye doctor, set a reasonable limit based on the child’s age. Software level restrictions can be set with the help of online safety programs, such as Kaspersky Safe Kids or of internal device settings, such as set-top boxes and iOS-based mobile devices.
Fear: Viruses on Your Computer
Some parents fear malware that their child might install with or instead of a favourite game.
Should you be afraid?
Of course, after all, the desire of a teenager to play this or that game may lead to attempts to download a pirated version.
Recent research by Kaspersky shows that the activity of hackers using the gaming theme as a lure has increased significantly since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, criminals using the gaming theme in their attacks do not use sophisticated technical methods, they rely on the gullibility and ignorance of the users.
- First of all, it is necessary to explain to the child what malware is, where you can download it, and what harm can it do.
- It is also worth taking the time to talk with your child about the bad side of piracy.
- Use an antivirus. This is useful not only if a child accidentally installs malware, but also in many other situations.
Fear: Aggressive behavior caused by violent games
Parents who are not versed in computer games, reading the postulates that “children become aggressive from computer games” give in to panic and forbid children to play video games.
Should you be afraid?
A child’s aggressive behaviour is not driven by the video games they play, but by a much broader range of reasons. Do not show your child video games at all, but he/she will still compete for kung fu with friends, shoot invisible enemies with a bow, pistol, grenade launcher or blaster. Both boys and girls do this, although it is believed that playing war is the prerogative of boys.
At the same time, if you allow, say, a six-year-old kid to play horror games like Doom and the Alien series, then such scary, frightening, violent games can really adversely affect the psyche of a young child, cause nightmares and other sleep disturbances, and irrational fears. The same can be said about the effect of such games on older children who already have certain fears or tendencies.
It should be remembered that there are different games for every age and every child.
- Use an age rating. Keep in mind that the age rating even suffers small deviations, if you do not enter the 16+ segment: if you are quite sure that a 12+ rated game is good, then why not install it for your ten-year-old son?
- To prevent your child from launching games that are not suitable for their age (for example, those that you bought for yourself, or that he/she downloaded from the Internet), use software that limits the ability to launch games or any content based on age rating.
- The most important thing is to always remember that whenever you try to restrict your child’s access to games, you first need to talk to your son or daughter and explain why you are doing this.
In conclusion, do not prohibit your children from playing video games, but to keep your child safe, remember that the following six points will help you better control this area of children’s life:
- Age rating
- Time limit
- Protection against malicious code
- Settings restricting in-app purchases
- Promote hobbies in the real world