Online Gaming: A Social Evil or a new bonding experience?

In the next couple of articles, we’ll be looking at how the internet affects our daily lives and what impact (positive or negative) it has on us.

This is a complex subject with many caveats, but today I’m going to hone in on online games, the good, the bad and what to look out for. First and foremost, let’s get the negative aspects out of the way so we can wrap up with the positives.

A recent study at the university of Oxford has found that addiction to online gaming and gambling should be classified (and treated) as a mental disorder. Personally, I know some fellow gamers who have spent tens of thousands of Rands on mobile games. Clash of clans, a “free” mobile game, has an annual turnover of $2.3 billion. Why? Because you can spend money in the game to advance in the game at a quicker pace. The game counts on our impatience to advance in the game to make money. And once you are hooked and have forked out some dough, you’re addicted.

A couple of weeks ago my business partner installed Minecraft on his daughter’s iPad. He was in for a nasty surprise when he found out that they were chatting to a random person who was asking very personal questions. Were they a boy or a girl? What was their address? It’s a scary thought that a stranger from anywhere in the world could have access to your children. Please monitor the games your children have installed on their devices, and install an app like Net Nanny to block malicious websites.

But let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I love playing online games. Some of my closest friends I met by chatting to them on my headset while trying to beat them in an online game.

Recently my kids have joined me online to compete with their dad. Seeing first-hand how my nine-year old rushes around on the map, builds walls to use as cover from enemy fire and doing all of this while avoiding friendly fire amazes me.

Our online gaming sessions have become great bonding sessions and have presented me with an opportunities to teach them the finer nuances of taking orders from superiors, taking charge of situations and making split decisions to save your troops from harm.

Social and leadership abilities are some of the most important life skills you can have as a person. Hand eye coordination is also very important and to see their dexterity with a controller in their hands is awesome.

To wrap it up, as with everything in life there is the good and the bad. Monitor your kids’ online activities with the multitude of awesome apps that are available, and use online games as a tool to bond with your kids and teach them some life skills. With mature mentorship and solid rules, online gaming can be a very positive influence on any child’s life.

Warm Lowveld Greetings

Nico Joubert


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