Return of banned games like techno BGMI, Free Fire harmful for kids: Experts

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New Delhi: Some Chinese games have returned to India in different formats and new avatars after months of ban due to national security reasons. While this may give a boost to the online gaming industry, it has raised serious concerns about the impact on the mental and physical health of children and youth in the country. South Korean video game developer Krafton’s Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), the popular battle royale game that enthralled the country’s gaming community, was relaunched in May with a government stipulation that added additional features including user damage and addiction. This will be closely monitored every quarter for factors.

BGMI has also roped in Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh to promote the sport in the country. Another popular banned game Free Fire from Singapore-based gaming company Garena is also back in the country from this week. Before their suspension last year, BGMI and Free Fire were among the top-grossing Android apps in the country. Since its relaunch in May, BGMI regained its position as the leading Android app by revenue on the Google Play Store in India. Prior to the ban, these games were widely criticized for their addictive nature and their negative impact on young players. Their relaunch has once again reignited the debate on the harmful effects of excessive gaming.

Dr Sameer Malhotra, Director and Head, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket, told IANS, “Strategic violent online games are known to create many problems in the young impressionable mind. They are associated with disturbed sleep-wake cycles, irritability, disobedience, conduct problems, abusive behavior, troubled relationships, neglect of meaningful life priorities, academic decline, low and unhealthy social interactions, unhealthy lifestyles, and unhealthy communication styles.’

He further said, sports can lead a person to ‘neglect of self-care, loss of meaningful purpose in life, trouble and compulsive behaviour, impulse control, anger issues, tendency to self-harm and body aches and headaches etc.’ Could Dr Trideep Chowdhary, consultant psychiatrist, Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhal Hospital, Vasant Kunj, told IANS that these games encourage players to achieve different goals and once these goals are achieved, they are There comes a sense of self-efficacy. The player’s self-esteem increases.

“It reinforces game-playing behavior in adolescents who are trying to find their identity at this age,” he said. Thus these online games can bring about a false sense of self-efficacy, reducing their interests and interactions in the physical world, which can negatively impact the development of social skills and other life skills.

According to a 2022 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), online gaming forces children to lead a sedentary life by reducing opportunities for physical activity, which is one of the main drivers of obesity – which can lead to cancer, type-2, Diabetes is a precursor to many diseases, including heart problems and lung diseases.

It is also the main cause of disability, the report said. In such a scenario, parents and teachers play a vital role in safeguarding the health and well-being of children. Educationist Meeta Sengupta said it is important to have good communication with children, build trust and help train them in self-control. He advised parents and teachers to put ‘psychological cues into everyday practice’ where you are always approving of children’s different actions rather than disapproving.

According to Nikita Tomar Mann of Noida-based Indraprastha Global School (IGPS), “Adolescent children are the most at-risk age group, as physical changes are accompanied by rebelliousness and disobedience to follow instructions. It is important that parents and students are regularly informed about the negative and addictive nature of such video games by highlighting them in digital literacy sessions, case-studies etc.

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