Cyber Bullying and Gaming by Kanak Kapil

India is witnessing a huge change in its online gaming culture since the past couple of years, thanks to a host of contributing factors. High competition among brands has successfully slashed down the prices of smartphones and internet connection, making them available to 2nd and 3rd tier consumers in our country. These services facilitate portable online gaming to a larger level, which is much more interactive and engaging. Most of the teenagers in our country today are familiar with online multiplayer games like PUBG and Free-fire and play them frequently. These games are engaging and connect us with other players in real time over the internet, on a common server for a game that can last about 30 minutes per round.

Interestingly, these games come with a feature of enabled microphone, speaker and chat box, which are commonly used for communication among players from the same team or even from rival teams. These games are violent in nature, dealing with killing other other players and surviving till the last. Normally, such intense games often lead to moments of emotional outbursts or even use of profane language by teammates. Often after losing due to some reason or on happening of an unwanted event during a game, these players may abuse at their teammates. There is no way of knowing your teammate’s age unless he or she tells it themselves, which younger kids often hide in an attempt to look more experienced in the game. Some players may even use bad language and gestures without any reason, just to humiliate or debase the other player. This kind of language can hurt younger kids emotionally, mentally and may even traumatize them. On a platform which has a flimsy age bar and a lousy support system, children are highly vulnerable to such mental assaults, just while trying to enjoy a game.
To avoid any such confrontation or experience, parents should first and foremost avoid giving access to younger kids to any such multiplayer games until they are mature enough to handle them properly. If a kid still chooses to play these games, there are certain features you can use to minimize interpersonal communication with strangers. You can completely disable the microphone and speaker within the game, or you can select if you want to interact only within your team. A young player should avoid making in-game friends who are complete strangers to him/her.
If someone has a bad experience during the game, he/she can report the miscreant within the game’s customer support system. However, this system can only ban or suspend someone’s account. In case of a big mishap, legal proceedings are hard as the game’s terms of service mostly cover up for such things. So, it is better to stay aware on a personal level about such things. Internet is an open world within itself and it is necessary to make your decisions wisely.

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