As technologies become more and more advanced, so has the world of digital gaming. Digital gaming is no longer simply a world of fiction. Today, millions of gamers connect with each other and play in real-time. Learn more about digital gaming in the 21st century.

  • Digital games are games played both online or offline, on a variety of platforms including gaming consoles (like PlayStation and Xbox), websites and apps (like Facebook), on smartphones, and on handheld devices like (iPads and Nintendo DSI). Game design and visuals can also range from quite complex to very basic and simple.
  • Today, digital gaming can be considered a “virtual playground” for kids and teens.
  • It is important to understand that gaming consoles can be considered computers— “children can log online, put on a headset, turn on a webcam, and talk to and play with any of the millions of gamers around the world.”

The upside of gaming:

  • Provides an opportunity to strengthen social bonds when choosing to play with others.
  • Provides a wonderful opportunity for parents to bond with children and understand their worlds, if they choose to play together.
  • May help develop many essential skills, varying depending on the type of game. These skills include problem-solving, reading, collaboration, 3D perspective, and persistence as gamers keep trying to “unlock the next level” or advance their performance.
  • Provides a sense of reward and achievement.

The downside of gaming:

  • It opens up very dangerous doors as many of the gamers interact with strangers that they nothing about.
  • Being quite attractive and addictive, gaming can be really hard to stop and lead to problematic excessive gaming, or even a serious addiction, much like a true addiction. Gaming can create an imbalance in our lives where no time is left to spend on other activities like real life socializing, sleeping, exercising. 
  • Deterioration in emotional intelligence, empathy, real life communication skills, and social skills.

Inappropriate content: 

  • Many popular games promote violence. This can affect mentalities and behaviors, promoting aggressive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Players can use inappropriate language
  • Other forms of online harm like harassment can occur in gaming.
  • Gaming is sedentary, meaning it reduces opportunities to have an active lifestyle, becoming a factor in increased rates of overweight and obese children and adults.
  • Gaming can be a financial burden. It can be easy to be lured into overspending on games and even within games, to unlock certain levels.

What are some tips to help us make the most out of digital gaming while limiting its downside?

Awareness

  • Remember to live by the values of digital citizenship – treat other players with respect and fairness. Even if it is a ‘game’, all players are still people.
  • Raise awareness about the risks of digital gaming
  • Raise awareness about the types of games we choose to play. It is important to choose wisely. There are new positive games that foster empathy for instance.
    • To understand today’s popular games https://www.askaboutgames.com
  • Ensure that the game is age-appropriate
  • Remember to never share personal information even if we believe that the other player has become a friend. Go over online privacy to understand the risks of sharing personal information.

Practical tips

  • Especially for younger children, ensure that they are gaming in a common area, under supervision, rather than alone in their rooms
  • Engage with children by talking to them about their gaming and showing interest in their gaming world.
  • Try to play with children to help understand the content in the game.
  • Immediately block and report other players who use inappropriate language, share inappropriate content
  • Ensure that the computer or device in which the online game is played has an anti-virus software installed. Games usually increase the risks of viruses.
  • Ensure that parental controls are set accordingly when possible

As gaming is through a screen, time spent gaming is part of screen time, it is important to take screen time prevention tips into consideration, like setting time limits to keep track of how much time is put into gaming.
 

How can we handle situations in which gaming takes over our lives or becomes problematic?  

What if gaming becomes excessive? Or even becomes a true addiction?

  1. Begin tracking time spent gaming. This can be an eye opener.

  2. Set a timer or limits to when and with who gaming is permitted.

  3. Set a limited budget to be spent on gaming.

  4. Make gaming time something that is earned rather than taken for granted.

    • If we manage to do other activities that are good for our wellbeing for example, we earn some gaming time. If we complete chores, then we earn gaming time.

  5. Schedule a gaming detox, just as with digital detoxes (screen-free) or (. This can be very refreshing and allows one opportunities to discover other things life has to offer. wi-fi free) time slots

  6. Learn how to identify that gaming has become a serious addiction. With plain common sense, if it is no longer fun and enjoyable, and if gaming has a greater negative impact on our lives than a positive impact, then surely this is a first sign of a problem. 

    • According to the World Health Organization, gaming disorder is “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” .In order to diagnose gaming disorder, “the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

  7. Parents and educators need to have a conversation with children and teens who are gaming excessively and may need to set stricter controls over how much time is permitted.

  8. If an addiction is suspected and further guidance is needed, it is generally advisable to seek an expert’s help. Call our Digital Wellbeing Support Line 800-91 to get free counseling services on digital challenges.

 

Did you know?
 

Roughly 25% of people in the United Arab Emirates play video games 1 to 3 hours per week.

 

Did you know?
 

Although billions of people around the world play video games, the World Health Organization predicts that only a minority suffers from a gaming disorder.