Dangerous online games

Even despite the fact that PUBG and other online games have led several young people to commit suicide, kill others and engage in other types of violence in family and society in Pakistan, authorities have failed to prevent teenagers and children from accessing harmful games. Recently, a PUBG addicted teenager named Zain Ali was tricked into murdering his mother, two sisters and older brother in his Lahore home. Police say the 18-year-old confessed to killing all four of his family members in the mistaken belief that his deceased loved ones would come back to life as happened in the video game. At home, Zain mostly lived alone in his bedroom, engrossed in the PBUG game. His mother would have reprimanded him several times for his morbid fascination with this highly dangerous game. But he ignored all warnings from his supporters.

This incident of violence and several others establish the vulnerability of immature people to what is known in psychology as suggestibility. The ease with which young people are influenced by their immediate and online environment and driven to horrific acts like self-annihilation, murder and crime. Young people play online games with people from all over the world, which exposes them to multiple dangers. A significant danger is that their playmates may acquire important information about them and their families. Anti-social elements exploit the gullible for their dark business and criminal motives. Thus, young people harm themselves, harm their loved ones and even those who are not part of their family orbit. It is up to parents to closely monitor the types of online games their children are playing and convince them to steer clear of dangerous games like PBUG. Teachers and the media must also play their part in preventing addictive and harmful video games.

After a case of violence resulting from PBUG addiction occurred in Lahore two years ago, the Telecommunications Authority of Pakistan banned the dangerous online game. Later, however, the ban was lifted. Now the police have again recommended a complete ban on these games. We hope that the ban this time will last.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st2022.

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