The dawn of the digital age has brought with it fast and reliable internet, smartphones and online gaming. This has provided young people with new ways of relaxing, bonding and forming an identity, while at the same time, presented them with risks not experienced by previous generations, including gaming disorder, cyber bullying and pre-exposure to adult content.
A report released in 2020 by the eSafety Commissioner stated that 81% of young Australians had played video games online and, in the past year, 34% of those young people have made in-game purchases, which has helped the Australian video game industry rise to be worth around $3 Billion, while making young people prime marketing targets. A further 17% of young people have experienced in game bullying in the past year, which is shown to increase their chances of suicide and self-harm by up to 50%.
Additionally, research suggests that up to 3% of all gamers will go onto to suffer from internet gaming disorder. Meanwhile, all young people who game are at risk of being exposed to gambling, violence, sexualised content and inappropriate language.
Moreover, 97% of all young people who play video games online are at risk of Internet Gaming Disorder. The other three percent have Internet Gaming Disorder. 100% of young people who game are at risk of experiencing or re-experiencing cyber bullying and 100% are at risk of pre-exposure. These are the big three risks of online gaming, and all three can have detrimental impacts.
This is made even more significant when taking into consideration over 80% of young people play games online. Guardians are actively seeking help for online gaming issues from support services and are becoming frustrated with the increasing gap in their understanding of how to keep their young people safe online while ensuring they aren’t spending excessive amounts of time in front of a screen.
Despite the substantial risks that can be associated with online gaming, the restriction of the act has not been advised by any bodies, including the World Health Organization. This is based, in part, to the large amount of benefits that young people gain through online gaming.
Online gaming has been proven to support young people with improved cognitive benefits and social outcomes. Moreover, young people enjoy learning and engaging online and are enjoying significant benefits, from increased cultural understanding to improved career pathways.
With gaming here to stay, it is crucial that young people at risk from its ill-effects are supported and educated to safely navigate the online gaming world while enjoying all of the benefits.
We achieve this through a multifaceted approach that incorporates:
- Therapeutic music and gaming programs
- Education and awareness training
- Unique family bonding opportunities
- Ongoing support