In a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), it was found that over 30 percent of Singaporean youths frequently or sometimes engage with strangers while playing online games.
- More than 30% of youths frequently or sometimes played online games with strangers.
- More than 10% engaged with strangers outside of gaming.
- 14% chatted with strangers about non-gaming related topics, shared personal information, or met them in person.
- 17% of youths aged 13 to 18 experienced in-game bullying, with only 8% reporting it to their parents.
- Approximately 38% of this age group encountered vulgarities or violent content in games, especially in first-person shooter games.
The survey, which collected data from 810 youths aged 10 to 18 and their parents, aimed to better understand gaming habits and parental awareness of their child’s well-being in relation to gaming.
The findings revealed that more than 10 percent of youths also interact with strangers outside of gaming, potentially exposing themselves to adult predators and online scams.
Additionally, approximately 14 percent of respondents admitted to chatting about non-gaming related topics with strangers, sharing personal information, or even meeting them in person.
“Such behaviour presents a risk of potential exposure to adult predators and online scams,” said MCI.
While the majority of respondents (64 percent) stated that they never or rarely played online games with strangers, it is concerning that a significant number (36 percent) did so sometimes or frequently.
Furthermore, 17 percent of respondents aged 13 to 18 reported experiencing in-game bullying, with only 8 percent disclosing the incidents to their parents. Additionally, almost half of these youths did not take any action against the bullies.
The survey also highlighted that 38 percent of the same age group had encountered vulgarities or violent content in games. Those who played first-person shooter games were identified as more likely to come across harmful content.
The MCI emphasized that while the survey focused on potential risks and dangers associated with online gaming, it did not conclude that gaming only had negative impacts on youths. Previous studies have shown that gaming can enhance perceptual and motor skills, promote teamwork and prosocial behavior, and provide a platform for creativity and imagination.
“While MCI’s survey focused on potential risks and dangers that youths may be exposed to, it did not conclude that online gaming only resulted in negative impacts,” MCI said in its news release.
“Other studies showed that there were benefits of gaming, such as enhancing perceptual and motor skills, promoting teamwork and prosocial behaviour, and providing platforms to express creativity and imagination.
“MCI’s survey sought to highlight the need to raise parents’ awareness of their child’s gaming activities, and encourage youths to make more informed decisions about their gaming behaviour.”
However, the MCI believes that there is a need to raise parents’ awareness of their child’s gaming activities and to encourage youths to make more informed decisions about their gaming behavior. The survey revealed that parents generally have a low awareness of their child’s gaming activities, with only half being able to accurately estimate the amount of time their child spends gaming.
On Tuesday, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo disclosed a range of new resources and initiatives at a public engagement session held at the National Library Building. Attendees at the event included academics, teachers, parents, and youths, among various others.
To tackle these issues and enhance online safety for Singaporean youths, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced new initiatives at a public engagement session.
These include the introduction of “bite-sized materials” to support parents in guiding their children to navigate the online world more safely and responsibly. The resources will be made available on various portals, including the Digital for Life (DfL) portal, the Families for Life Parenting website, and the Parents Gateway.
The resources will cover topics such as managing screen use, cultivating healthy online habits, and safeguarding children from cyberbullying and online grooming. In addition to these materials, workshops, webinars, and family activities will be conducted by Digital for Life partners.
“These efforts will ensure parents are adequately equipped to guide children to be confident and responsible users of digital technologies,” said MCI in it’s release.
A poll conducted by the Singapore-Sunlight Alliance for Action in 2022 found that nearly half of the 1,000 respondents in Singapore had experienced online harm such as cyberbullying and stalking. However, more than four in 10 respondents said they wouldn’t take action against such behavior because they believed it wouldn’t make a difference.
The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) stated that while its survey focused on potential risks, it doesn’t conclude that online gaming solely resulted in negative impacts for youths.
Other studies, including one by the Ministry of Health, found that gaming can enhance skills and promote positive behavior. Singapore is also investing in the e-sports industry, which has seen global revenues of $1.6 billion in 2023.
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