By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: May 6 - First the Facebook Live. Now, the online suicide games. Seems like there is no respite from the “virtual scare” for the parents. Online suicide games are games that challenge children to commit suicide and post videos of the same. Experts warn it is the parents’ responsibility to dissuade children from such “life-threatening” games. Many children in Oman engage in virtual combats. Although the chilling ‘Blue Whale’ suicide game hasn’t really caught on here, it doesn’t give parents any reason to smile about. The games set 50 challenges and the last one is to commit suicide.
“There are many online games that put children’s lives in jeopardy,” says Tariq al Barwani, IT expert and founder of Knowledge Oman. “I have not heard of any casualties because of suicide games. No case involving such games have been reported in Oman so far, but parents should keep their eyes and ears open,” he cautioned.
He said these online games always look for vulnerable people who can easily get addicted to them.
From time to time, there have been different games stealing the valuable time of the children.
“Do not underestimate anything. We need to do so many things as responsible citizens and responsible parents,” said Al Barwani.
Stressing the role of parents, IT experts said: “We should spend more time with kids and speak to them. Find out what they are up to and who their friends are.”
They feel children should be treated like friends so they don’t withhold any information.
According to a psychiatrist working for a private hospital, exposing a child to violent games at a young age will make him/her show increased levels of aggression and lack of empathy.
“Always have a heart-to-heart talk with the children and advise them about the dangers of online games which ask them to do what is considered socially and ethically not right,” said Shaikh Ahmed Darimi, a religious scholar.
“Let kids know what is religiously and socially right or wrong.”
While video games are making their way into the Olympics, Oman has a strong IT policy and the government has
always sought to safeguard citizens and residents from such
dangers by banning games that are considered against national policy, promoting excessive violence, offensive or have explicit content in them.
The Ministry of Information regularly monitors games for content and distributes an updated list of games that cannot be distributed in the country.
A dozen such online as well as video games are banned.
Addiction to these games can cause health disorders, permanent/temporary damage to health and sometimes even death, medical experts said.
“Some of the physical disorders include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), migraines, spondylitis, Nintendonitis (Tendinosis), PlayStation Thumb (Palmar hidradenitis), seizures and death caused by addiction,” says Dr Thashli Thankachan, specialist physician at a private hospital in Oman.