Online gaming and Cyber safety for children

online gaming and cyber safety

The Covid-19 pandemic era will be known as an era where humans adopted technology without any qualms. Fortunately technology has evolved to a level across the globe which enabled people to adopt & adapt with the situation of working from home.  There has been a radical transformation in the way we work, the way we communicate and the way we learn. Offices moved online, e-commerce industry received a massive boost, digital content creators kept the Instagram Reels buzzing and product companies moved online to ship their products once the logistics sector was back on it’s feet. Another aspect which gained prominance along with all this was cyber safety.

Since the pandemic led to the shut down of schools, team Child For Child decided to e-connect with its school patrons. The team wanted to continue with its quest to inculcate empathy amongst children from privileged schools through online initiatives.  While interacting online with students, teachers and parents, the team realized that it would also have to start focusing on children’s mental wellbeing. Thence sprung the idea of organizing webinars on multitude of topics, some of them being Cyber safety awareness and Yoga for Peace.

One of the most transformational changes was viewed in the education sector. Not only did the classes move online, there was a surge of EduTech companies that flooded the market with their online edutainment programmes. Social Media organizations jumped the bandwagon with their handles and pages promoting all types of webinars and digital programmes with a gusto. Schools adopted Zoom, Webex, Teams and different online applications to conduct classes online. Those who could, increased the wifi connections in their homes and doubled up on their gadget purchases.

While the education industry was going through a 360 degree makeover, one disturbing trend that caught the eye was the uncontrolled spread of the tentacles of the digital gaming industry. Products of this industry initially proved to be a boon for children and young adults who could not step out of their homes in the initial days of the lockdown to indulge in sporting activities. In the beginning it seemed like a good way for children to ward away their boredom. But in the long run, there was a noticeable upswing in addiction of children as young as 8 years to games like Robolox, Among Us and Fortnite.

As students began spending anywhere from 4-10 hours on digital gadgets Team Child for Child felt the need to organize sessions on Cyber Safety Awareness across schools on a regular basis. A lot of focus was given on cyber bullying and cyber self-protection. Over time a need for organizing sessions dedicated to self-protection during Gaming was also felt. The focus pf Team CFC in the sessions for 10 year old students has primarily been on making them aware & wary while playing online games.

Cyber Safety session

To most of the students the first advice was to Research on details like Age classification and the level of violence and strong language being used in the games, before they even downloaded the games. Secondly they were advised to not download any game that was available for free. A proper check is to be conducted by parents on platforms for downloading games like Apple store, Google Play store, XBOX , Nintendo & PlayStation. Students should also be careful before Uploading personal details. Parents’ details should be shared for receiving all types of notifications. The next and probably the most important alert was towards their online gaming buddies and the chats that they participate in. Often gamers on various platforms create Chat groups and once a bon homie sets in among the gamers, young ones often share personal details inadvertently which could be misused.

One Mantra that works well online ..”if not required do not accept &/or share”! While we always discourage children from getting onto online games which are age inappropriate, it would be a huge help if their guardians also step up. Parents & guardians need to play a much stronger role by monitoring the games their wards play or the online activities they are involved in. Regular checks and conversations with their wards can go a long way in their cyber safety.

To know more about child for child visit https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/childforchild.html

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Author

Monica Mor

Monica has been an educationist for almost 16 of her 19 years of work experience. Her past 4 years has been in the Non profit sector, working with youth as a part of Haryana Skill Development Mission and also with an NGO called Concern India Foundation. She is currently leading the Child for Child program, one of the flagship programs of Smile Foundation. She loves to spend time as a counsellor for youth & children and is involved in many outreach activities for school children, pan India.

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