With video games being linked to negative side effects such as addiction, gamers need to be aware of the risks. But how do we stay on the fun side of gaming? What precautions can we take to avoid unhealthy gaming habits?
To begin with, let’s take a look at the potential risks of gaming.
- 1 Risks of gaming
- 2 Tips to avoid the gaming danger zone
- 3 What should parents do?
Risks of gaming
A widely known risk of gaming is addiction. Over a prolonged period of time, compulsive use of video or internet games can result in significant impairment of an individual’s day to day life. This includes how they function at home, at work and in social situations, as well as how they take care of their own physical and mental health.
Another risk associated with gaming is spending excessive amounts of money on console games and in-app purchases. Loot boxes, which are present in many games and reward random in-game features in exchange for real money transactions, have been likened to gambling. There have been a number of instances where both adult gamers and minors have developed unhealthy habits by spending large amounts of money on video game loot boxes.
Sadly, cyber-bullying is all too real for many online users. Victims are targeted by cyber-bullies who send aggressive messages or threats online. This can be emotionally traumatic and have a major impact on the victim’s day to day life.
Privacy settings and personal information
Despite recent improvements to data laws, there is still always a potential risk to your personal and financial information, even if this may be small. There’s also the risk of young children unassumingly giving away sensitive information, ignorant of the damage this could cause.
Tips to avoid the gaming danger zone
Set yourself limits
Make sure you don’t play outside of certain hours. For instance, give yourself a maximum of 1 or 2 hours a day playtime.
Keep consoles/computers out of the bedroom.
Make sure that certain rooms are void of gaming consoles to reduce the temptation to play and help achieve a good night’s rest.
Do other activities.
Make sure you take part in a variety of hobbies and projects, exercising the body and the mind in diverse and interesting ways. This will help reduce any negative impact on your physical or mental health.
Seek professional/medical help if necessary.
If you feel that your addiction has gone too far, you can always seek expert help either online or at your local GPs.
What should parents do?
Cases can be a little different for children. Parents can consider the above to keep their children safe, and the below for extra comfort:
Monitor game time.
Parents should be aware of how long their child is online, and should encourage them to avoid too much screen time before bed to avoid any impact on their sleeping patterns.
Know what games they’re playing.
Some games have high age ratings based on violent or graphic imagery. Parents should make sure their children aren’t exposed to any visuals online or on games that may be traumatic for them.
Don’t save any banking or personal details to consoles/phones.
This will avoid any sneaky payments being made without the parent’s permission and also reduce the risk of sensitive information becoming compromised.
Encourage a variety of activities (especially physical).
Getting as much exercise and movement as possible is great for mental and physical health. Avoid letting children spend too much time static, watching a screen. Encourage them to move and have fun with friends outside.
In the end, gaming can be really be fun with the right precautions. By taking the advice listed, you (and your family) are well on your way to a fun and safe gaming experience.