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Outdoor games make kids smarter

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By Nishant Arora

If the news of two Delhi brothers who were so hooked to video games that they became too lazy to even go to washroom and were treated in a rehab facility for a month shocked you to the core, it is time to take a serious look at how much time your kids are spending on latest video gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation at home.

The video game addiction is for real and despite several recent studies telling us that they can make your kids sharper and smarter, it is time for parents to do a reality check before it gets too late.

“The video gaming addiction can lead to various health hazards in kids. Little, dedicated time on video gaming is fun but when kids get hooked to games, shun outdoor activities, avoid socialisation, cut on their sleep time and start loosing interest in most other things, that is when it become a grave concern,” Dr. Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behaviourial sciences at Fortis Healthcare, told IANS.

Last December, researchers from the University of Utah US released findings that showed that brains of compulsive video game players are wired differently.

While some of the changes are predicted to help game players respond to new information, other changes are associated with distractibility and poor impulse control, the researchers noted.

“Those with internet gaming disorder are obsessed with video games, often to the extent that they give up eating and sleeping to play,” says senior study author Jeffrey Anderson, associate professor of neuroradiology in a paper published in the journal Addiction Biology.

According to Dr. Shobhana Mittal, consultant psychiatrist at Cosmos Institute of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS) in New Delhi, video gaming stimulates the dopamine neurotransmitter pathways in the brain – thereby making it an addictive activity for some.

“Instant gratification of pleasure experienced during gaming can lead to poor impulse control in children. Spending too much time on gaming can deeply impact a child’s physical health as well as psycho-social well being,” Mittal told IANS.

Another study that came out last October surprisingly found that children whose parents are very anxious and emotional are likely to play more violent video games tha their peers.

“It is not surprising that warmer and more restrictive parents, or what we call authoritative, are most effective at reducing the amount of violent video games played by their children,” said Russell Laczniak, professor of marketing at Iowa State University.

Researchers identified the effect in all children, but it was stronger for boys and first-borns.

The best solution, however, lies at home only.

“Parents need to encourage outdoor activities, help children develop hobbies, encourage them to interact more with friends. If they feel that children are spending too much time on online gaming, then must talk to a counsellor if the duration is not reduced,” Parikh advised.

Parents need to set appropriate limits for their children with regards to the type of video games permitted and time spent on them.

“Video games at a very young age should be avoided, so that children can have an opportunity to develop other interests and hobbies at this age,” Mittal added.

Children should be encouraged to participate in alternate fun activities depending on their interest, including playing outdoor sports, music, dance, art or interacting with other children their age, which would contribute to a child’s all-round development.

“If parents want to reduce the amount of violent video games that their kids play, be warm when dealing with them, but somewhat restrictive at the same time and set rules and those rules will work,” Laczniak suggested in a paper that appeared in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.

In your childhood, you also must have played platform games like “Street Fighter,” “Pacman” and the quintessential “Mario” on those huge coin-operated machines in dingy ice-cream parlours with joysticks and buttons — amid the constant threat of being caught by your parents.

But, warn health experts, parents must realize that video gaming is now part of their home settings and must be restricted — especially where both parents are working – to watch your kids grow healthier and smarter. (IANS)

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10 Outdoor Indian Games On the Brink Of Extinction

These once-popular children's games have been the victims of the virtual generation and must be revived before they are lost forever

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Fancy gadgets have taken over the space of outdoor games in our lives
Fancy gadgets have taken over the space of outdoor games in our lives

Today, in the modern age of smartphones and a huge virtual world, classical Indian outdoor games are on the brink of extinction. Your parents or grandparents would strike into a stage of nostalgia at the very mention of these games. Kho kho, Pithu, and Galli danda are maybe known names to you, but the majority of kids today, have not experienced the bliss of them.

Ask them, and they will tell you a tale or two about the games mentioned below:

ALSO READ: Outdoor games make kids smarter

A boy playing 'Pithu'.
A boy playing ‘Pithu’.

1. Lagori or Pithu

At one time, it was one of the most popular games for kids in India. It involves a ball and a pile of stones (which are stacked on top of each other). Member of one team has to throw the ball to knock the stack of stones. Following this, the team has to re-built the stack, while the opposing team throws the ball at them. If the ball touches a person, s/he is out and the team continues to play without him/her. The game is played by two teams with any number of members.

Childern playing with marbles.
Children playing with marbles.

2. Kancha or Marbles

This game is played with glass marbles that are round in shape. The motive is to collect as many marbles as possible by striking other marbles with the ones you have. It is still a very popular game among kids in rural areas. It can be played by any number of people.

3. Chain

This one’s a classic children’s game which is losing popularity now. The game consists of a ‘denner’, who has to catch other players. Once the denner catches a player, s/he becomes a part of the chain, then they have to catch the remaining players. This game is usually played with not more than 10 people.

Playing Gilli-danda,
Children playing Gilli-danda.

4. Gilli Danda

The game is played with a small piece of wood, which is reduced on both sides (‘gilli’), and a large piece of wood that is used to hit the gilli (‘danda’). Players have to hit the gilli as far as possible, and members of the other team have to catch it. Gilli Danda is played in two teams. Its popularity in India once rivalled that of cricket.

Kho Kho
Students playing Kho Kho.

5. Kho Kho

Kho Kho is played by two teams, who are required to chase down and tag the players of the opposite team to win the game. The chasing team has nine players in the field, who sit in a straight line with alternate players facing opposite sides. The chasing team has to catch the runners before time runs out.

A boy spinning a lattoo.
A boy spinning a lattoo.

6. Lattoo

This game involves spinning a wooden top known as a ‘lattoo’, which has grooves in the lower half and a nail at the bottom. A thick string is wrapped around the grooves on the lower half and pulling the string making the topspin.

Kids playing Hopscotch.

7. Hopscotch or Stapoo

This one’s a popular playground game. In Stapoo, the players have to throw a small object into the numbered spaces of a pattern of rectangles marked on the ground. Then, they have to hop or jump through the spaces to retrieve the object.

ALSO READ: Games of Change’ Festival in New York

8. Chhupam Chhupai or Hide-n-Seek

In this game, players hide in a marked area. They have to be found one by one by the seekers. The denner has to close his/her eyes and count, after which s/he tries to find other players.

9. Chor-Sipahi

In Chor-Sipahi, two teams play (one of thieves and others of ‘sipahi’). The sipahi try and catch the chor, after which the turn changes. This game was the Indian equivalent of the western game ‘Tag’.

10. Four Corners

In this game, four corners are designated, and a player is chosen as being ‘it’. The rest of the players have to swap corners without being caught by ‘it’. If a player is caught by ‘it’ or is without a corner to stand in, he becomes ‘it’. It is a game often played by primary school children.