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  • Writer's pictureNina Bual

Trapping Our Kids: The Predatory Gaming Tactics That Hook Young Players

Reflecting on the simpler days of my childhood, where I navigated the pixelated corridors of MunchMan or solved puzzles in Crocodile Math, I notice a stark contrast with the digital landscape my seven year old son navigates today. Back then, my digital engagement was self-paced and moderated by natural breaks and access to the one home computer, which sat front and centre in the living room. In contrast, my son's experiences are far more solitary and constant. Armed with his very own iPad, he darts from one corner of the house to another, often hiding in hopes we won't find him and cut his session short. His playtime is punctuated by persistent notifications, the thrill of cracking different levels, and login calendars that strictly dictate when he can or cannot access his games.

These features, seemingly harmless as scheduling tools, may very well be shaping a framework that conditions him like a Pavlovian experiment, reacting to digital prompts rather than engaging in natural, human interactions. And remember, this is the reality for a seven-year-old! This continuous digital engagement raises profound questions about the subtle ways our children's behaviours and expectations are being moulded by technology.

Understanding Login Calendars

Login calendars are features embedded within digital games and apps such as Roblox and Brawl Stars that encourage users, particularly children, to return at specific times for gameplay. These calendars often penalise players for missing these predefined logins or reward them for adherence with game points, special events, or feature unlocks. The underlying strategy is to create a routine that prioritises game interaction, leveraging the fear of missing out (FOMO) among peers as a powerful motivator.

The Psychological Impact

These calendars are designed to trigger excitement and anticipation, akin to the euphoria experienced in other rewarding scenarios. This ‘euphoria rush’ is not accidental, designed to forge a dependency on the game, similar to the hooks used in gambling.

 For my son, this becomes a significant aspect of his social interaction with friends, as they spark up discussion on the school bus and on what they’ve earned or missed, intensifying his need to be part of the digital loop.

  1. Monitor Gaming Content: It's crucial to check the games your children are playing, especially platforms like Roblox, to identify any potentially harmful features. You can then decide whether to limit access, explain the feature to your child, or block the game entirely. Many apps actually now have parental control settings, which you can find on our Parental Controls and Settings page.

  2. Redefine Game Time: Now that you're aware of these manipulative features, discuss them with your child. This conversation can help mitigate the urgency to log in at specific times and reduce the pressure children feel to meet the game's demands.

  3. Educate on Psychological Tactics: Understanding the psychological tactics used by apps and games can empower both you and your child. Recognizing these strategies is the first step toward reducing their influence, allowing you and your child to start taking control.

  4. Promote Diverse Interests: Encourage a variety of interests beyond the digital world. Adjust the timing of game time so it feels less regimented, providing richer alternatives that pull away from the structured allure of login calendars.

While digital tools and games are undeniably part of our children's lives, it's vital to understand and mitigate the impacts of features like login calendars. As parents, it's important to recognize that predatory behaviour may not always come from strangers online but can originate from the games themselves. 

Now it's time to explain this all again to my son.


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