It really is all fun and games

PHYSICAL activity and social interaction have taken a backseat since the Covid-19 pandemic forced everyone to stay indoors.

This has proven to be more of a challenge for active children who may not have an outlet to release their pent up energy.

To help individuals – including children – cope, the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated the #PlayApartTogether campaign, said Taylor’s University Department of Social Sciences lecturer Dr Edison Lee.

Although excessive gaming can be undesirable from a parent’s perspective, this campaign actually encourages people to stay at home and play video games online, he shared.

“Gaming can be a useful tool for us in facing the Covid-19 outbreak as it is good for children to stay in and play games in the comfort and safety of their homes.

“Parents should be more worried if their children are going out unnecessarily.

“In the present state, gaming can be a good activity to release the stress of being under the movement control order, ” he told StarEdu.

He said many large game development studios have joined this initiative, and assisted the WHO to encourage adoption of this type of preventive measure.

“For now, it is better for them to play video games while being monitored at home, than to be exposed to the highly infectious Covid-19 virus at outdoor events and gatherings, ” he added.

But with more students spending extended hours on their devices, there is a growing concern that too much screen time will impact their social skills and affect their mental health.

This is even more so as children, who are already spending hours studying online, are now also spending their free time glued to their devices playing games.

But not all games, said Lee, are bad.

Gamification, which is the addition of gaming elements to a lesson to keep students interested, has proven to be beneficial in both the short and long run.

While prolonged gaming suppresses the brain region that is responsible for higher level cognitive functioning and emotional regulation can lead to depression and anxiety disorder, Lee, who is also an expert in cyberpsychology, said it does not mean that excessive gaming causes poor mental health.

Those who already struggling with the illness may be more drawn to gaming as a form of escapism, he said.

Lee added that a study by Oxford University suggests that the level of enjoyment players get from a game may be more important for their well-being than the duration of the play time itself. — By REBECCA RAJAENDRAM


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