There was a time when kids came home from school, ate a hurried lunch, and ran outside to play with their friends. Whether it was in the village or the city, there was always something to do outdoors. Playing games, climbing trees, or just sitting in the balcao or verandah and chatting, 30 something year-olds look back on their childhood days with nostalgia for a simpler time. Today, however, things have changed. Seven tiles has changed to PUBG, hop-scotch has become TikTok, and cricket bats are now mobile phones. The new generation is recognised by the amount of time they spend buried in mobile devices, and over the past couple of years, this behaviour has led to alarming consequences, and the call for a ban on PUBG and TikTok in Goa.
The need for course correction
In a bid to discourage children from spending excessive amounts of time playing games or indulging in social media on mobile phones, the Directorate of Education on the recommendation of Goa State Commission For Protection of Child Rights has called for awareness amongst parents about the dangers of mobile apps – specifically PUBG and TikTok. In the circular issued last week, the DOE states that “the above apps and games create the issue of safety and security of children in the State of Goa.” It further says that teachers need to create awareness amongst the students of the school as well as parents by calling for a PTA.
What are PUBG and TikTok
Most people are aware by now of these widely popular apps. PUBG – Player Unkown’s Battleground (and a similar app called Fortnite) are role-playing games where the player is dropped in a particular location and needs to fight to survive. The player faces off against players from across the world, racking up a score based on the number of kills. Though the game is free to download, there are various paid elements like costumes and equipment that make the game more compelling and addictive.
TikTok is a popular social sharing app that allows users to record themselves dubbing over popular movie and television dialogues, reacting to specific videos, or even making their own ‘music videos’ with the original track in the background. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this was the same concept behind another widely popular app, music.ly, which was bought by TikTok parent company ByteDance in 2017. Both TikTok and PUBG have been downloaded over a billion times worldwide making them two of the most popular mobile phone apps.
Why are they so ‘dangerous’?
Do we really need to ban PUBG and TikTok in Goa? Well, whether or not these apps are actually ‘dangerous’ is a matter of perspective. While some may look at them as harmless mobile phone apps, there have been reported instances across India where uncontrolled engagement with these apps have led to untoward circumstances, and in some cases, death. Just two months ago, a 16-year-old boy from Madhya Pradesh died after suffering from a cardiac arrest while playing PUBG. In another incident earlier this year, a 20-year old from Telangana died after playing PUBG continuously for 45 days. While these instances may seem excessive, it speaks to the addictive nature of these games, and how difficult it is to control adolescents, let alone young children
Where TikTok is concerned, incidents have been even more severe. In an attempt to get more followers and viewers on the platform, people have gone to life-threatening extremes. As part of a TikTok challenge, a 12-year old boy in Rajasthan accidentally hung himself, while a woman in Tamil Nadu filmed her suicide and shared it live because her husband asked her to stop using TikTok. There are many more instances like this, which eventually led to a nationwide ban on the app in April, though just a few days later, the ban was lifted. But it is instances like this that have led to the call for a ban on PUBG and TikTok in Goa – to prevent such extreme circumstances.
What is your take on the situation? Do you think a complete ban is justified, or is there another way to handle the situation? Let us know in the comments below.