I recently read an article in gaming news all about videos games and China – for those who aren’t up to date with gaming in China. Recently, the Chinese government have labelled online gaming as an electronic opium, citing that due to their addictive nature, the effect on our brains is similar to taking drugs or gambling. In my personal opinion, I feel as though this is a strong branding on Online Gaming because lots of other activities such as any sport could be labelled in a similar manner (I know there are physical differences between the two). However, both as an avid video game fan and a Primary School teacher and Online Safety Lead within my school, I can understand the impact and addictive nature of video games. Now China have gone a step further and put a ban on the amount of time games can be played under a certain age – they have changed the law to state that minors can only play games for 1 hour on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Now the reason I wanted to write this post is because in this modern era of convenience, screen time is becoming a serious problem and children are choosing to spend a lot of their time in front of screen. I see this all the time within my job – children telling me they have spent an evening playing games instead of reading their school or not going outside during the holidays. I am not saying having screen time is bad, I myself as a child player ALOT of video games. The difference being however is the nature of gaming today. Games in general have become easier to access and more interactive; providing the players with more ways to engage and play. Online gaming generally and the competitive nature, is highly addictive, especially to young children – never mind the fact that their are gazillions of youtubers and twitch users generating content that child want nothing more than to replicate themselves. Mixed into this are the loot boxes; which are again creating another addictive element.
Speaking as someone who lives in the UK, often the issue resides around the parents not educating their children correctly in how to manage their lives, often allowing their children lots of screen time instead of other methods of entertaining them. The Chinese method of controlling Online Gaming is drastic, however if parents aren’t equipped to support their children – should countries and the gaming industry be doing more to curb a minor’s ability to play too much online. Given modern technology, it should become easier to put things in place to monitor and limit Online Gaming. I don’t want people to ever be restricted from doing something they love, but if minors aren’t taught how to manage themselves through their responsible adults then others might need to play that role instead.