Iraqi authorities are considering a ban on popular shooter video games like Fortnite and PUBG, fearing they lead to violence amongst young people.
Senior Iraqi Member of Parliament, Sami’a Ghulab, told a press conference in Baghdad that she feared the games “threaten the social and moral peace” of the country.
“The Committee on Culture, Information, Tourism, and Archeology views with great concern the spread of the phenomenon of electronic games that is causing violence among children, and young boys and girls,” Ghulab, who chairs the committee, said on Saturday.
Fears of increasing aggressive tendencies in children and young adults is a rising concern in Iraq. Despite an ongoing unstable environment from recent conflict, some parents and policymakers are focusing on video games as the cause.
In November 2018, a young man killed his friend with a shotgun during what was referred to as a “PUBG roleplay gone wrong”.
Ghulab called for authorities to, “end this negative phenomenon through the issuance of legislation to prevent the circulation of these games.”
With online gaming difficult to restrict by law, religious leaders have sought to use their community position to advise the public.
A religious authority in the Kurdistan region issued a fatwa on playing PUBG in October 2018. “It has caused a considerable number of people to be obsessed with it and waste their time,” Irfan Rasheed, head of the fatwa committee in Sulaimani, told reporters from Rudaw Media Network.
Ali Al-Sistani and Muqtada Al-Sadr, two of Iraq’s top Shia clerics, advised players last year to be wary of the addictive properties and intellectually wasteful nature of the games.
Fortnite has come under repeated criticism for putting children in danger as a result of its interface which encourages text chats between players over the internet.
With teachers and the National Crime Agency in the UK calling on parents to become more aware of who their children are in contact with.On their part, parents have reported their children being “aggressive” when they try to prise them away from their screen.
With experts saying the highly addictive game has seen kids staying up through the night.However, studies on the links between child behaviour and video games remain inconclusive with some believing that Fortnite can be beneficial to children’s social development and ability to fit in among their peers.