Kids play online games for lack of attention

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/12 18:18:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

"Honor of Kings," a popular mobile game developed by Tencent, has been wrapped in controversy because a large number of teenagers are addicted to the game. What are the main reasons for the popularity of the game? How can we divert children's attention from online games? What measures can be taken to reduce the negative effects of the game on teenagers? The Global Times collected three pieces on this topic.

Implement a game classification system

Children in modern society are encircled by the mobile Internet. And "Honor of Kings" has become a part of their childhood, as a large number of them play the game in their spare time.

With many children playing the game, designed for adults, there is no denying that the past boundaries of games that divided adults and children have become more and more blurred. The prevalence of the game among teenagers suggests that children's games are disappearing.

This is what parents and teachers are worried about. The prevalence of "Honor of Kings" makes them recall the phenomenon 20 years ago when a lot of students in primary and high school were hanging around in Internet bars. For them, "Honor of Kings" seems like a kind of "electronic opium."

There are several factors which can explain the success of the game. The game fits the present social and cultural environment. Its support by powerful Tencent is another key ingredient.

"Honor of Kings" has spread widely through WeChat and QQ. The length of each session is about 10 to 20 minutes, making it convenient for users to play at odd moments during the day.

Other factors include the popularity of mobile phones, and the strong demand for entertainment products. Moreover, the popularity of eSports plays a role in the prevalence of "Honor of Kings."

It can be said that the success of "Honor of Kings" is due to a wide variety of factors, some in control of Tencent, and many not. As Tencent examines its own culpability for teenagers' addiction to the game, the whole of society should also rethink the influence of technology. Technology and games are not wrong in themselves. But Tencent must also realize it should do something to reduce the harm caused by the game it invented.

In February, Tencent launched a parental-control platform for parents to monitor their children's gaming account activities. In July, Tencent put forward its strictest measures against game addiction, rigidly restricting the game time of juveniles.

In foreign countries, there are different methods for restricting juveniles' use of games. Some countries have effectively promoted the implementation of classification systems to prevent addiction. In the future, "Honor of Kings" may push China to impose its own classification system on games.

Time Weekly

More time with kids, less on phone

By Cui Bowen

Tencent has rolled out a three-pronged approach to limit the use of "Honor of Kings" amid ongoing complaints that hundreds of millions of youngsters are becoming addicted to the multiplayer online game at the expense of their mental and physical health.

For instance, limited login time is allocated for users under 12. They are limited to one hour of play a day, and not permitted to sign in between 9 pm and 8 am each day from July 18. Players between the ages of 12 and 18 are allowed to play for two hours per day. Any young player who attempts to play for a longer time will be forced to go offline. Stricter parental supervision is suggested, and a real-name authentication system will be further enforced.

However, tough control over the smartphone game is just an expedient measure and cannot eradicate the problem. A lack of parental companionship is the root cause of children's game addiction. With Chinese society on a fast developing track, parents are sandwiched between work and family, and work takes a large portion of their daily life, so they have less spare time to take care of their kids.

Parents' addiction to mobile phones makes matters worse. The popularity of mobile phones has given rise to an increasing number of phone addicts, including young parents. Phones have become a life necessity for them and leave less time for parental companionship with their kids.

However, excessive use of mobile phones causes a disconnection between parents and their children and risks harming their kids' physical and psychological growth. Parents need to shoulder the major responsibility for preventing children from becoming mobile game addicts. Tencent said, "We also call on parents to spend more time with their children, to allow them to feel more of the warmth of growing up." Parents can create more opportunities to keep children company, such as holding household or outdoor activities to build a closer bond with their children.

The games parents and children play together in the real world satisfy children's needs to seek pleasure and challenges, improve their social abilities, and help them gain a sense of security and a sense of belonging, which online games fail to do.

The author is a postgraduate student at Beijing Language and Culture University.

Emphasize group outdoor activities

To counter the addictive qualities of "Honor of Kings," dozens of teenagers in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province took part in outdoor activities that followed the content of game.

This won praise from parents and teachers. The reasons why parents and teachers support this kind of outdoor activities but oppose online games are obvious. Online games are virtual and are usually full of violence, sex and confusing historic content, which can harm teenagers, who have poor self-control and discretion. On the contrary, outdoor activities are real, and emphasize closeness to nature, fair competition and reflexes, which can help children develop.

How do we compete with mobile games to attract children? The organizer of the activities in Changzhou, Tan Dong, said, "Encourage your children to take part in our activities. These activities are more interesting than 'Honor of Kings'."

Tan's words make sense. Secretary General of the Orienteering Association of China Jiang Yulong believes that the popularity of "Honor of Kings" is because the game fully meets teenagers' needs, such as the pleasure of victory, sense of achievement, sense of identity and sense of pride. These are hard to be satisfied in reality. He believes that healthy outdoor activities can meet children's desire for challenges and achievements, which can help them get away from online and mobile games.

However, there is a practical problem. One characteristic of mobile games like "Honor of Kings" is that people can play these games at any time and any place, contributing to their popularity. Although parents realize the importance of participating in outdoor activities, the activities usually occupy a lot of time. Therefore, many parents tend to take their children for outdoor activities on holidays, during which children also have to attend cram schools.

The way to divert children's attention from online games may lie in the number of activity venues and healthy activities offered to children, and the number of parents willing to spare their time on their children.

Xinhua News Agency

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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