China recently imposed a gaming curfew for those below 18 years to curb gaming addiction. The restrictions include time limits for playing games, spending limits, and a ban on games between 10 pm to 8 am. Earlier, China had appointed a gaming regulator. As a result, the largest gaming company in China was forced to verify age against government records. (See related news here)
While China’s move may be termed controversial or even excessive use of government power, it does raise a serious question. Many parents are aware how long hours of gaming effects pre-teens and teenagers. Scientists have carried out studies which indicate that video games can influence our brain’s structure and functioning. Long hours of gameplay may change neural pathways and cause addiction by altering the brain’s areas associated with pleasure, learning, and motivation.
Positive effects of games?
Some people argue that playing video games can bring positive effects like improving hand-eye coordination, concentration, pattern recognition, etc. However, it is highly questionable whether these skills are transferred outside the context of the game itself.
How gaming addiction can harm children
The negative effects of computer and mobile games are two-pronged. Firstly, many games have excessive violence, sexually suggestive content, and inappropriate behavior. Secondly, they can cause an effect on the brain similar to drugs and alcohol leading to addiction. Modern games on mobile phones include features like chatting, picture sharing, etc, which may encourage children to engage in risky behavior. Read our post on 22 harmful apps to know about such games.
What do scientists say?
An international study covering 17000 adolescents from 24 countries concluded that violent games lead to aggressive behavior in youngsters. Similarly, other studies have also concluded that addicted kids show signs of social phobia, and their academic performance suffers.
What are our options?
In conclusion, we cannot fault China in its intent of protecting the young population from the negative effects of gaming. However, democracies like India will not be able to implement such measures. Moreover, this problem is far from drawing the government’s attention yet.
Parents need to be aware
Hence, it is up to individual parents to understand the problem, recognize the symptoms, and take precautionary measures. The parents should understand this phenomenon and ensure that their children are not overexposed to video games. They should also be aware of possible solutions to restrict gaming hours.
Solutions for Parents to avoid gaming addiction
Nowadays our homes are filled with multiple digital devices. As a result, restricting gaming hours becomes difficult. Parents should first recognize the devices where their child plays games. Next, they need to consider how each device can be restricted. If possible, gaming should be restricted to only one device on which parental controls are activated. These controls should include gaming time as well as the content.
Qubit : An easy solution for parents
Qubit phones offer parents a very easy method to limit gaming. Parents can set a gaming time limit for each day of the week. Qubit locks all games till the next day once this limit is exhausted. Also, any new game installed by the child remains locked until parents allow it. Watch this video to learn more.
We would love to hear your thoughts on how gaming has affected any children you know? Please leave us a comment.