New Delhi. Online gaming can help parents bond with children : Lockdown continues around the world due to the Corona pandemic, forcing children and families to stay indoors. This is affecting the mental health of young children and their parents. There are 2.2 billion children around the world, which is about 28 percent of the total population. It is clear from many studies that the effect of staying inside the four-wall for a long time is affecting the mental health of the people. Last year, many people approached doctors with complaints about their mental health. Classes in academic institutions around the world were closed due to restrictions imposed due to Covid-19. Because of this, lakhs of children are physically unable to meet their teachers and friends. The need for interactive entertainment has increased in view of the pandemic. According to a recently released report by UNICEF, due to the current epidemic, the development of children around the world has slipped behind by many years. These children are in the formative years of their life and at this time they need more opportunities for extra-curricular activities and entertainment. Lack of such opportunities can hinder their emotional development, due to which the parents are also under pressure. Looking at today’s era, you will not be surprised to know that the screen time of some children has increased by up to 500%, as they are searching for entertainment options along with online studies on the screen itself. As the whole world celebrates Father’s Day today, on this occasion we want to throw light on the role of fathers in the lives of children during the pandemic, who are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to give their children interesting entertainment. While mothers do many things for their children, children expect fathers for their extra-curricular activities, such as sports, travel and gaming. Such activities create a good bonding between father and children, as well as are important in their emotional and mental development. Nowadays online gaming has become an interesting alternative to outdoor activities and sports. We are not saying that children should play video games alone for hours. Instead we are talking about online multiplayer games, which provide opportunities for children to interact as well as transparent competition. We live in the golden age of social gaming, where parents, especially young fathers, are trying to do the same for their kids. Online gaming has also been found to be effective in reducing stress in adults. Fathers can keep their kids engaged and active by choosing skill based games. This is commonly seen in Western countries, where parents often play online games with their children. In between gaming, they keep on talking about their kids’ school, their friends and their general life. This trend from Western countries led to the development of the popular ‘dad gaming league’, which has grown rapidly during the pandemic.
Benefits of online gamingActivity and interactive entertainment are no longer just options, but have become imperative to maintain normal emotional and mental health of a person in the current circumstances. It is important for parents to be fully active in their children’s lives, pay full attention to them in this difficult time, support them in every way possible. Since outdoor activities are not possible or practical in today’s era, online gaming can be a good option to keep kids active. Such games serve as an important platform for both children and fathers to connect with each other, while also promoting the spirit of competition in an interactive setup. If children’s education is also linked with gamification, then these games can bring a big positive change in the way of learning of children.
Growth of online gaming in IndiaAccording to a report released by FICCI and EY on the country’s media and entertainment sector in 2020, online gaming registered a 40 per cent growth in 2019-2020, generating revenue of Rs 65 billion (2019). According to a KPMG report, the number of online gamers in India has crossed the 500 million mark between July 2020 and January 2021, with 90 per cent of gamers using smartphones or tablets. According to the BARC-Nielsen report, gamers in India now spend 218 minutes on online games – an increase of 151 minutes compared to the lockdown in 2020. You will not be surprised to know that the interest of investors and start-ups is also increasing in gaming. With $173 million invested in the sector during the year 2020, there are currently over 400 million gaming start-ups in the country. This sector is growing rapidly and there is immense potential for growth in online gaming. With the current pandemic also affecting the mental health and academic prospects of children, online gaming can play an effective role in getting society and the economy back on track. For this, policy makers need to formulate favorable policies with an open mind. (The author is Dr. Subi Chaturvedi, PhD, IIID, an eminent public policy professional and former member of the United Nations, Internet Governance Forum, a multi-stakeholder advisory group.)
[Attribution to NBT]