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All about Gaming Addiction and Safety

Online Gaming

Digital technology is currently advancing rapidly , this generation of teenagers mostly use gadgets to play online games and are addicted towards them. In order to keep them busy in other ways like offline engagement with sports and education, it is impossible to shield them from gadgets. A gradual increase in online game addiction can change thinking and behavioural patterns that lead to an entire focus shift towards games rather than studies.

Games like Momo Challenge, Player Unknown Battleground (PUBG), Blue Whale Challenge, and many more have already impacted many precious lives. Most pre-teens and teens behave as if they can’t live without such games. These games are played in big groups and have been creating great levels of addictions and confusion in their lives.

Despite the popularity of online gaming in India, there have been no formal dedicated studies on the negative psychosocial impact. American Psychiatric Association notes that symptoms like preoccupation with gaming, withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away or not possible (sadness, anxiety, irritability, suicide and substance addiction), inability to reduce playing, unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming, giving up other activities, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities due to gaming, etc., can indicate a potential gaming addiction.

Your Addiction, their Monetisation:

Apart from addiction, the core opportunity for the fraudsters is that they monetise their activities like buying and selling virtual currencies and artefacts like skins, weapons and armour, etc., thus creating an opportunity to offer fraud schemes such as money laundering and payment fraud, which happens mostly on free-to-play online multiplayer games.

Several monetisation options, particularly in free-to-play online multiplayer games, include (a) in-app advertisements. (b) In Game product. (c) Incentive based advertisement (c) Purchase/Pay per download. (d) Premiums and upgrades. (e) In App purchases (f) Free Subscription.

Modus operandi of colour prediction game fraud:

Cyber fraudsters lure people with higher returns on bet amounts. Using a colour prediction app, a type of mobile gambling application, where one can place bets to predict the correct colour or a combination of colours on the app, they are targeting people who fall easily for the promise of easy money. The steps in such games will be as below.

  • Step 1 – First, they will post attractive advertisements for colour prediction gaming links on various social media platforms, sites, and applications. They mention that those interested in placing online bets must first register their names and give details of Aadhar cards, PAN cards, and other details, and the apps offer rewards if they help to enrol more people.
  • Step 2 – A colour prediction application is a type of gambling application where you can place bets to predict the correct colour or a combination of colours on the application. Players win money for predicting the correct colour. However, these gambling applications are often used by scammers to rope in innocent victims, and no details are available on the Google Play Store or iOS App Store. The fraudsters send links to the players to download a fraudulent gaming apps by sending .APK and .DMZ files.
  • Step 3 – Once the registration process on the app is done, the fraudsters open a bank account in the name of the player and also link an E-wallet to the account. They then permit the player to start betting.
  • Step 4 – In these colour prediction apps, victims first place a bet of a minimum amount on a particular colour and win double the amount. The win encourages them to invest more money. The app wallet also shows their earnings, but when they try to withdraw that money, they cannot. Fraudsters also ask victims to pay advances in the name of Income Tax and GST fees, among other things, under the guise of withdrawing money.

Modus Operandi of the Fraud:

a) The fraudster sends the click bait messages via SMS, WhatsApp, email or social media.
b) A fraudster creates a fake advertisement on social media platforms and on Google Advertisements. Fraudsters mainly advertise things that are trending, like the new iPhone model.
c) When a victim gets attracted towards advertisements and is approached by a fraudster, the victim is asked to pay an amount as a booking /advance fee.
d) The victim pays the requested amount with the belief that he will get a product at a discounted rate.
e) Again, the victim is asked to pay an additional amount towards delivery , GST, and express delivery charges etc.
f) The fraudster sends delivery tracking details to make the victim believe it to be true and the victim initiates the money transfer.
g) After the victim transfers the money, the fraudster blocks calls and all means of communication.

Parental controls for online gaming:

  • Watch out for symbols EC = Early Childhood, E = Everyone , T = Teen , M = Mature, AO = Adults.
  • See Pictures (i) Parental Guidance (ii) Violence and (iii) Bad Language (iv) 18 Years
  • Set time limits – Use the Family Cell phone agreement and Internet Screen Time Agreement
  • Keep phones and other gadgets out of the bedroom and kids shouldn’t play at night.
  • Teach children to keep personal information private while playing online games.
  • Teach children to taking regular breaks it helps to deal with stress, anger and anxiety.
  • Being critical of spending money In-App purchases and parents suggested to keep low credit value cards. Here the children may resort to borrowing money from friends if they fall short of funds, hence better not to support for such App purchases.
  • In Xbox One or Xbox Series S/X, go to System > Settings > Account > Family to manage permissions for child family members.
  • In PlayStation 4/5, go to Settings > Parental Controls > Family Management to enable security features, such as time and spending limits, content restrictions, and web filtering.
  • In Nintendo Switch, go to System Settings > Parental Controls. Even without the app, you can block games by age rating, limit communication, and disable VR.