Stakeholders urge parental vigilance over excessive online games
Stakeholders urge parental vigilance over excessive online games.
Some experts and parents have said that excessive online video games and social media could make children addicted, withdrawn and affect their social interactions.
In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), concerned stakeholders said too much screentime and online gaming could also cause medical issues like eye problems and depression and called for parental vigilance.
According to them, children need to be monitored and sensitised on the effect of excessive online gaming habits to prevent them from exhibiting antisocial and erratic behaviours.
Mr Yemi Odutola, Head of Communication at Women Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC), said that video games and social media were products of technology which has kept both children and youths intensely engaged for many years.
Odutola, however, said that spending too much time on video games and social media could make a child addicted, withdrawn and affect his or her interaction with other people.
Odutola said that about 70-80 per cent of children now have access to phones and the internet which, according to him, enables them to visit any site of their choice.
He said that most children know how to access the internet better than their parents and guardians.
According to research, significant changes occur in the brain while a child is engaged in playing video games, particularly violent video games.
“When children are playing erratic video games, there is less activity in the brain that involves emotions, attention and inhibition of impulses,” he said.
Odutola said that another effect of too much screentime and online gaming was that it could create medical issues such as eye problems and depression among others.
The communication officer urged parents to monitor and limit the amount of time their children spent in playing online games.
He said that awareness was also key, noting that parents, teachers and counselors had a role to play in sensitising children on the side effects of excessive online gaming.
Using China as a case study, Odutola said that the country had found a way to monitor and limit the time children spend on social media.
“I will not discourage its usage by children entirely but tight supervision and time allocation is necessary as the platforms also have immense gains, ” he said.
Similarly, Mr Jide Awe, an Information Technology Expert and Chief Executive Officer of Jidaw Systems Ltd, said that too much online gaming was detrimental to the health and reasoning of a child.
Awe said that asides the erratic behaviour a child could exhibit from excessive playing of online video games, they tend to lose touch with reality and might not carry out their real life activities as well as they should.
“It leads to errors of judgement in the real world and makes them more antisocial. This has a very negative effect on the building of social skills, which are critical life skills that are very much needed for their interaction, growth and success in the real world.
“This is particularly important as dependence on machines grow, so will the need for everyone to have social skills.
“There has to be greater public awareness on the dangers of excessive online gaming and social media usage by the relevant agencies and advocacy bodies as well as organisations in the education sector,” Awe said.
He added that child online protection measures should include monitoring and control in education and in homes by teachers and parents.
Also, Mr Ayooluwa Shoga, a parent, also noted that it was important to monitor and supervise the kind of online games children play.
He said: “As parents, we need to monitor the content children are exposed to, particularly with adult-rated movies and games, investigate parental controls on devices, and prioritise interactive screen time such as computers.
“We need to encourage a balance between screentime and other activities by placing limitations around screens where needed; for example, no screen use near bedtime and no devices in bedrooms,” Shoga said.
Another parent, Mrs Bunmi Farotimi said that the rate at which children excessively play video games was alarming.
She noted that parents need to be very vigilant and monitor the kind of video games their children play as well as the cartoons they watch on the television.
Farotimi noted that currently, a lot of vices have been embedded into some of the games and cartoons children watch.
“For instance, a child that constantly watches a video game and cartoon where he or she is encouraged to shoot, stab or strangle an opponent to win.
” Children are very inquisitive, at some point he or she might want to try it out,” she said.