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Dubai: Four children were taken to a hospital in the UAE suffering from health issues due to long hours spent playing online games, an official said on Wednesday.

Dr Khalid Al Salman, a legal adviser in the Monitoring and Control Center in Abu Dhabi, said his friend took his son to a hospital in Sharjah after he suffered cramps while playing an online game for hours.

Dr Salman said: “He took him to the hospital and doctors told him that his son was the fourth case admitted to the hospital in a month. Parents shouldn’t allow their children to stay in front of the screen for long hours. One hour per day is enough,”

He was speaking at a press conference organised by Dubai Police to warn about the dangers of online games on children and teenagers.

Dubai Police said they received 1,626 complaints and calls this year from worried parents regarding their children’s addiction to gaming, though no crime related to online games was recorded.

“Some parents are afraid to report crimes involving family members because they think it is their mistake for not monitoring their children. In such crimes, the suspect is usually in a faraway country and it is hard to trace it. It is the responsibility of parents and schools to educate children about the danger of online games,” Dr Al Salman said.

Meanwhile, Dubai Police are warning parents, teenagers and children about the danger of free online games, as they can potentially expose themselves to hackers and fraudsters, as well as harm their health due to long hours spent in front of computer screens.

Online gaming, including answering quizzes on social media platforms or violent games like Fortinite have become popular among youngsters.

Col Omar Mohammad Bin Hammad, deputy director of the Anti-Economic Crime Department at Dubai Police, said they are keen to educate parents and children about the danger of online games in an awareness campaign for one month.

“We want to educate parents and the young generation about the danger of such games. Children and teenagers can be exposed to hackers or strangers who tend to exploit users’ personal information,” Col Bin Hammad said.

Dubai Police have online patrols to monitor dangerous games that encourage suicide, violence, drugs or violate privacy and blocks them in coordination with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

Lieutenant Colonel Salem Salmeen, Deputy Director of Cybercrimes Department in Dubai Police, said authorities have made it hard to download games like Blue Whale that promote suicide, as users need to search on servers.

“Some games are espionage programs as it asks the user to finish levels and answer questions, sometimes by taking pictures of places. Some online games promote dangerous ideologies like terrorism,” Lt Col Salmeen said.

Dubai Police campaign will target gamers, parents and teachers to educate them about the dangers of online games.