Sunday, May 15, 2022

Online games and the idea of beauty

(Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay)

The default perception about online games is that they are all bad. No, I won't say that. 

There are many that are good. Those are the ones that challenge you to solve problems and make you think. 

There are some others that improve your general knowledge; or language / mathematical / coordination skills.

They are all fine. 

But what's worrying are the games that play on emotions of children and young adults.

YOU CREATE YOUR OWN STORY

Many of these games are what are called fantasy games in which the player is allowed to create a story by choosing from options that the game presents at regular intervals. Some of them are called 'beauty games', targeted at girls.

I am not going to give examples of such games. Give a web search or go to the play store on your mobile phone. You will find plenty.

These are by no means new. They have been there for decades. 

More and more of them are being created; and the more we get dependent on the internet and phones, the reach and influence of these games too grows.

Many of these games play on the characters' beauty and style; and the story plot involves romance, dating, marriage, and sometimes adult themes and situations.

You as a player can choose things that you think are impressive. Or, you can dress up / glam up a character with the available set of clothes. Or, you can make these characters handsome or beautiful.

Though it is said that you are the protagonist and you can choose how the story develops, it's not exactly so. You don't have a free hand to build a story of your liking. 

Remember these are games, where there are winners and losers depending on your idea of what is beauty. It has to match the standard set by the developers of the games.

That's where the danger lies. 

WHO IS BEAUTIFUL AND WHO IS NOT

The developers of these games have decided who exactly is a handsome man or a beautiful woman; what sort of dress makes them attractive to the opposite gender; what you need to do to win a date; or to get married and lead a happy and successful life.

There is a lot of stereotyping in these games, and that's very harmful. Young boys and girls, by getting hooked on to such games, tend to develop totally falsified ideas of what is beauty, happiness, success, etc.

There is untold emotional damage these games inflict on impressionable minds of boys and girls, and colour their outlook as they grow into adults. 

SOLUTION

There is so much talk about the need for good mental health and well-being. But little is done to check the proliferation of these types of games. 

The only way is to have some sort of parental control. Limit, regulate, supervise children's interactions with games. 

It may not be possible to keep mobile phones away from children, or deny them access to the internet. 

But there is an inbuilt 'parental control' function. All major cyber security products have it. Play stores have it. Make use of it. 

Parents themselves have to be good role models for their children. They need to be careful when they make comments about situations or other people. 

It shouldn't look like they are reinforcing certain stereotypes or they are setting expectations or standards regarding beauty / happiness / success.

There should be a healthy environment at home that will make children feel emotionally secure and comfortable, so that they trust parents more than what they see / hear on the internet or the phone.

I know it is not easy. But parents have to take this important step, for the sake their children and other children.

33 comments:

  1. Hari Om
    Well said, sir! Ultimately the exposure will be there, but if the next generations are inculcated with positive values about image and personality and how to negotiate society, they will not be attracted to such influences... and will, perhaps, seek out the intellectually stimulating and fulfilling ones instead! YAM xx

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    1. Hi Yamini - Thank you. Yes, there is a dire need for more positive influences.

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  2. I've seen ads for those games on the games I play (Words With Friends), and I'm horrified at them. I hadn't thought of how the younger players would see them. (I just ignore them as being rather stupid.) So much to look out for, especially those who are parents.

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  3. Very well written. I have come across a few intellectually stimulating online games.

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  4. I wasn't aware of the games for girls and it horrifies me that young women will be pushing to attain the unattainable because of electronic games.

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    1. Hi Andrew, - Apparently these are quite popular among children. This post was actually prompted by a few parents telling me about the challenge their children are posing.

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  5. Parents are helpless. As a teacher I know how helpless both parents and teachers are when it comes to youngsters' addiction to these games.

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    1. Hi Tomi - Fully agree with you. It's really tough. Even if parents being in some regulation, there is a vast friends' circle the children have, and there is tremendous peer pressure from them.

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  6. It is a minefield for parents nowadays. We are being bombarded constantly with so many unhealthy stereotypes, children are constantly being targetted through the media. And if the parents are themselves not net/media/game-savvy individuals then it becomes even more difficult. Along with parental control, there should be clear standards, checks and balances on what is permissible to be marketed to children and equally clearly, suitable penalties for flouting those standards. Educators, schools, media heads and marketers all need to get involved. Parents alone can't do it.

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    1. Hi Nilanjana,
      Thank you for the insightful words.
      I fully agree with you. It has to be a combined effort; because so many things are wrong in so many places.
      One reason, I think, these issues are not in the centre stage is because the emotional harm that these stereotypes and false expectations inflict on children aren't outrightly visible and tangible. When something goes wrong, the attempt is to treat the symptom, and the root cause remains unaddressed.

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  7. I completely 100% agree with you. Children- especially teens Children, especially teens are extremely susceptible to other children in what they think and do. With little guidance from busy parents who have to work and aren't there to advise and enforce common sense about these games, it's all over. It begins in the home. I am a product of parental care and guidance and I reared my children as I was reared.

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    1. Hi Katie - These children are usually at an impressionable age; and the peer pressure plays a huge role. It's tough. And like Nilanjana pointed out above, parents alone might not be able to achieve the desired result.

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  8. Hi Pradeep - not having children, sometimes! is a blessing, but I can understand everyone's challenges as the kids are exposed to all kinds of unsavoury life ... somehow the boundaries of being a person of character, yet good conduct, thoughtfulness etc ... need to be inculcated into us as we grow, so the standards are set from a very young age. Katie says it right - we need that parental care and guidance at the start of life ... we need to be influenced by people who lead us as to how we should behave etc ... excellent post - cheers Hilary


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    1. Hi Hilary - It's tough for parents to guide the children as the kids are exposed to so much more than we were when we were young.

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  9. I'm sure that many games are mentally challenging and valuable in what they offer the developing mind, but sadly too many others don't fit that criteria. I am pleased my children are now grown up, but feel for then as they attempt to steer their kids through this morass!

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    1. Hi Keith - Absolutely. There was less exposure to such stuff during our younger days.

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  10. Agree with you.
    Not all games are bad. They are interesting & improve our skills. We can even learn "Chess" etc by playing against the computer or with someone from around the world.
    But, the dangerous games are those that play with the emotions & expect players to take extreme steps e.g. "Blue Whale".
    Children are sadly falling prey.
    Parents & teachers & society needs to take care.

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    1. Hi Anita - I guess good games like word games or those that test your skills should be promoted. There should be law regulating games that emotionally harm children.

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  11. It's really on the parents to be involved with what their children are doing and making sure they learn a healthy mindset, though I think game makers should be more thoughtful about their content, too. No games that idealize one type of person as beautiful, and things like that.

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  12. I have to refrain from games. The only thing I can play is wordle. The others are too addicting and I feel like I have DT's when I don't play them. It is a real struggle to stay away from them. I even struggle with not scrolling in FB and other social media platforms.
    Cheers,
    Barbie

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    1. Hi Crackerberries - Wordle is good. I used to play regularly. Now I am taking a break from it.

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  13. I so agree with you Pradeep. One of the many culprits in adding on to the hype of perfect beauty or the emotional stress of children specially teenagers, are such games targeted at building pressure on them to live up to the hollow socially accepted norms. It is sad that these people will go to any lengths to make money. Without proper guidance, children today have to deal with a lot of pressure and unwanted mental stress.

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    1. Hi Radhika - Yes. Today such harmful distractions are far more than earlier. It's fine to make up and feel good about oneself. The problem comes when a standard is set and judgements are made. Sad that money too is driving all these.

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  14. True. There are some games which are good to exercise the brain, and I look forward to such games. Wordle was one, but somehow the players of it has fizzled out.

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  15. I prob need to do more games to get this old brain working better but I do not play anything but words with friends online.

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  16. Funnily I tried a game called choices just to see what it is😅🤣 and i laughed my ass off...seeing the game options...if u hav to select a good options u need to buy or earn points...u spoke on a very trouble some and relevant topics...i feel so glad that my childhood was atleast simple with minimal games like road rash etc....i don't like anyone of games...we keep parental control which my daughter accesses at times...with online schooling gadgets hav become accessible......sigh!!

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  17. Pls ignore typos and errors...phone acted up

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  18. Such games are really a bad example for young girls. However, even children on Instagram is shocking, the parents want them to grow up early when its not needed

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  19. Interesting and relevant post I saw a lot of youngsters and some times elders also hooked to online games, somehow it has never attracted me and I have not really tried playing any of these games. I understand the risk and parenting is a challenge to keep track of all this, thanks for sharing.

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  20. Relevant post Pradeep. Well written!

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  21. I've seen ads for those kind of games. Are they actually popular? They look like pure drivel to me.

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  22. Like Afshan, I am glad to have grown up in an era before all of this. ~shudders~ Thank you for sharing this poignant information. And best wishes!

    - Darla
    https://darlamsands.blogspot.com/

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