Protect your kids from online bullies

Experts say that children are mostly bullied through games wherein the feature of chatting is available. Some online bullies also steal child’s gaming password and can hack into their account. Some role-playing games encourage children to take in a new persona online, after which they imitate violent behavior through these role-playing games

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Two weeks ago, the parents of a 14-year-old approached a psychiatrist, seeking help for their child who was hooked to online gaming for nearly 8 hours a day. When the doctor studied the cause behind this eight-hour-long presence for online gaming, it revealed that cyber bullying through gaming forced the child to spend more time on gaming.

The child used to play an online game where people from different countries teamed up. The game had a feature of online chatting. Parents were disturbed by the child’s unacceptable behaviour, as he spent six to eight hours on online gaming.

“The parents consulted me for treating their child so that he limits, spending his time on online gaming. After examining the patient, I concluded it to be a case of cyber bullying through gaming which is forcing the child to spend maximum time on gaming. The child was immersed in a virtual world and took bullying so seriously that he started spending more time on social media. Just to prove others that he too is good at gaming and can score well,” explained Dr Rohan Jagirdar, a consultant psychiatrist from Pune.

“These are the children with low self-esteem and suffering from social isolation. Parents and children need to be given psychological education regarding the same. Some of the extreme cases could be treated with anti-depressants, mood stabilisers along with counselling,” he said.

Jagirdar has treated four such cases in the last six months in Pune. “The problem aggravates when children forget the difference between the virtual and the real world. In such cases, children can be bullied, through the chatting option provided by the games. While, the parents need to be aware about this,” he added.

Online bullies steal the child’s gaming password and hack their account. While some online role-playing games force children to take a new persona online. They imitate the violent behavior through these role-playing games and then indulge themselves in bullying other kids through these games.

Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist from Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai, said, “Children exchange abuses through chatting options available in online gaming. I have seen cases, where a child was bullied as he could not contribute to the team score or as he was not aggressive in the game. Most of the times, children find it easy to bully each other on online platforms as the identity is anonymous.