The increased use of online gaming has brought with it a slew of challenges and risks that include exposure of children to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, addiction, gambling, and toxic peers, warned a new report on Thursday.
The global gaming industry is expected to grow in the next few years, and the risks associated with it, such as cybercrimes and cyberbullying, must be acknowledged by parents, gamers, and the government, said the report by CyberPeace Foundation, a think tank and grassroots NGO of cybersecurity and policy experts.
Online gaming also exposes children to sexual predators, and serves as “gateway drugs” into online pornography, said the report titled, “Online Gaming- Issues, Challenges And Recommendations For End Users, Parents and Government Regulations”.
Children are also vulnerable to cyberbullying, that triggers severe problems like depression and suicidal tendencies.
This danger is compounded by the fact that strangers may find the location of the children in real life and put them in danger or share their personal information with their peers.
Most games require players to be seated in one place for extended periods of time. Besides causing mental strain, this habit increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis, cancer, heart disease, liver disease, carpal tunnel syndrome and other significant problems.
Continuous exposure to the blue rays from a monitor or a smartphone can also increase the risk of damage to the eyes and hamper their sleep schedules, warned the report.
Several games, most notably multiplayer mobile games, are equipped with facilities that allow players to make in-app and in-game purchases.
Cybercriminals are well aware that people prefer downloading pirated versions of games instead of purchasing them, and they take advantage of this fact by bundling malware into these versions that are then planted into the players’ systems with ease.
Horrific real life incidents associated with online gaming include bank accounts being emptied by teenagers for making in-app purchases.
Games and virtual economies are often even used for money laundering, CyberPeace Foundation said.
The gaming industry suffered 12 billion cyberattacks between November 2017 and March 2019, according to aan Akamai Technologies report.
This suggests that cybercriminals are interested in the industry to extract valuable personal information and financial data that gamers often leave on forums or accounts, CyberPeace Foundation said.