With the pandemic locking everyone in their houses, restricting movement and playing, kids have found their solace in online gaming. But this has opened a Pandora’s box of other problems. Kids these days have been exposed to issues like addiction, cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, inappropriate online content, gambling and toxic peers stated a new report.
The gaming industry is expected to grow in the next few years, and along with it will increase the risks associated with it. Cybercrimes and cyberbullying are two aspects that need to be on the radar of the authorities. Parents, gamers and even the government can ensure safety, said a report by CyberPeace Foundation, a think tank and grassroots NGO working in the cybersecurity and policy arena.
The report also said that online gaming exposes children to sexual predators and becomes a gateway to online pornography. It also exposes them to online bullying which can later become a trigger to depression and suicidal tendencies.
Another danger to online gaming is the loss of “stranger danger” as a concept. In a virtual world, without physical contact, it is hard to figure out who is a genuine person and who is a pervert in disguise. This becomes a huge problem to privacy; it’s easier to figure out a child’s location of their internet activities. Strangers can use this information to their benefit or can pass it on to their peers.
Some games, mostly the ones with multiplayer gaming, require in-app purchases. Now everyone knows to avoid making constant purchases to upgrade the games you play, many gamers have found it easier to download pirated versions of these games. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of this fact and embedding malware into these versions which can then be easily planted into the players’ systems.
Real-life incidents include bank accounts being emptied for in-app purchases by teenagers. The report by CyberPeace Foundation stated that games and virtual economies are often used for money laundering as well.
Another report by Akamai Technologies the gaming industries have suffered about 12 billions cyberattacks between November 2017 and March 2019.
This shows that cybercriminals are interested in the industry to gain valuable personal information and financial data gamers often leave on forums or accounts stated the report by CyberPeace Foundation.
Times are tough, so is trying to find entertainment but it is up to us as aware users of the virtual world to be careful with the content we are consuming.