Online games

  • Awareness
  • 24/11/2016
  • João Pedro Martins, Youth moderator

This week, 19 youth panellists from across Europe are meeting in Luxembourg at the European Youth Panel. This annual event precedes the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) 2016, where the participating youth also input to high-level discussions with multiple stakeholders on creating a better internet. Here, one of the participants, João Pedro Martins, a 19-year-old computer engineering student from Portugal, provides his views on online games.

"How many of you struggle with responsibilities, deadlines and commitments? It's becoming more and more difficult to escape the continuous pressure and stress we live in. Online games often appear to young people as an easy way of taking a break from all that.
 
"When you type ‘online game' into a search engine, you get thousands of hits of websites offering a range of choices for ways to spend your time. From web-based applications, either inside your social network or in a game database page, through to more complex browser game options, the ultimate experience is when you physically install and run a game program on your device. Moreover, there are games suitable for everyone, every device, every situation and, besides the type you might prefer, there are some aspects that most games have in common, whether for or against them.
 
"On the one hand, when you play, you develop the capability of making decisions and strategic thinking, because managing resources and functions, as well as action planning, are necessary to play games. These skills also match everyday life needs, particularly when the games are built to simulate problem-solving models.
 
"Likewise, several games require team work and contribute to promoting cooperation. Any multiplayer game teaches you that, in order to live in community, you have to establish rules and standards, and ensure that all its members follow them.
 
"According to researchers, playing in the digital world could be a key factor to succeeding in real society once the digital experience is connected to processes of selection of information, development of critical thinking, digital skills and autonomy.
 
"On the other hand, we cannot forget the downside of online games. If the player does not exercise self-control, too much gaming can cause addiction, real-world social isolation and even obesity. Basically, if you play for extended periods of time, you will end up not doing other things you should, especially more productive ones.
 
"But game producers should be held responsible, too. In many cases, there are features that a player can only unblock after achieving a certain amount of game time or paying a subscription. In other situations, when you download a game, viruses or spyware may come as unwanted guests, posing a risk to your personal data and hardware devices. That is why you should always scan everything you download, games or not, and always opt for trusted sources.
 
"The bottom line is, if you are aware of the dangers, the advantages outweigh the risks related to your online game exposure. Most of all, make sure that it is really you playing the game, rather than the game playing you!"
 
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids Portal, European Schoolnet, the European Commission or any related organisations or parties.

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