gaming

Online gaming is booming but it can take a toll on physical, mental well-being: Report

According to NortonLifeLock Inc’s India Digital Wellness survey, majority of Indian adults believe online gaming is affecting their mental and physical well-being. Here are the key findings of the survey.

Is online gaming good for you?
Is online gaming good for you? (Fortnite)

Even as millions of people are staying indoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, online gaming has seen exponential growth. In India, games such as PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile are highly popular among the youth. A new survey reveals that online gaming has taken a toll on their physical and mental well-being.

According to NortonLifeLock Inc’s India Digital Wellness Report, 87% of respondents believe that online gaming affects their physical and mental well-being. Nearly 76% of respondents believe that addiction to action games has led to a change in their behaviour and can raise depression and anxiety levels. About 70% of respondents feel that children connecting with strangers while playing games online can make them vulnerable to cyberbullying, harassment, and violence.

The survey covers 1,572 city-based Indian adults.

“People could be drawn to online gaming for entertainment, but data shows that it is not all about fun and games. The virtual playing field comes with risks such as identity theft, cyber bullying, phishing, and credit card theft, to name a few,” said Ritesh Chopra, Director, NortonLifeLock, India.

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“It is interesting to note that children follow the same patterns as their parents when it comes to online gaming. Therefore, it becomes extremely important for parents as well as children to be educated about the threats that can compromise their safety and privacy in this complex digital world. ‘Play well and stay safe’ seem to be the new mantra in these challenging times,” he added.

Key findings of the study:

Women and GenX embrace online gaming: According to the survey, 88% of female respondents and 92% of GenX respondents believe online games to be the best way to pass time.

These cities love online gaming: Cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar prefer online gaming than other social engagements.

Shooting and adventure games: Almost 73% of the parents in the survey say that their children prefer shooting and adventure games, while 21% say that their children show a preference for casino and card games.

Parenting: According to the survey, parents are finding it difficult to help their children prevent smartphone addiction.

“45% of respondents say they find it difficult to control their children’s smartphone usage. Interestingly, 81% of the respondents who put a check mechanism on children’s usage of smartphones feel they have not been effective in controlling the gaming time, as the children of 42% of these respondents play games online for more than two hours every day,” said the report.

The debate over the effects of gaming

The survey is likely to trigger a new round of debate over the consequences of online gaming. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has flip-flopped its position over online gaming. Earlier this year, the WHO teamed up with the gaming industry to launch a Play Apart Together' campaign. The initiative has been backed by big gaming firms such as Activision Blizzard, Twitch, Riot Games, and YouTube Gaming.

The health body, however, also classified “gaming disorder” as a disease.

"Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior ("digital-gaming" or "video-gaming") characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences,” according to a 2018 post from WHO on the issue.

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Even the latest Norton survey points out some positive aspects of the gaming. According to the survey, 70% of respondents feel that playing online games makes them smarter by improving hand-eye co-ordination and also enhances teamwork skills.