Video games are not necessarily bad for children

By Xu Hailin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/2 14:08:40

Photo: IC

The addiction medicine center of a hospital in Beijing has reportedly received and treated more than 30 people with behavioral addiction in less than three months since the establishment of the center in May. Eight of these people were diagnosed with gaming disorder, the youngest of whom was only 14 years old. Gaming disorder has become a problem that concerns a lot of parents in China.

These parents feel helpless as their kids love nothing but video games, and don't have a social life with friends. They might have tried every available method to get their sons away from video games - even sending them to undergo the infamous electroshock therapy.

Many times, I have seen young parents give their kids a smartphone to play games on so that they could enjoy a "peaceful" meal. They usually don't think it is a big deal to use smartphones or tablets to entertain children until the little ones become addicted. These parents would then blame video games for "poisoning" their kids. But they never think it could be them who are at fault.

It is true that some video games are intentionally designed to make people get addicted, but this is not the case for every game. As children grow up, parents should be there to guide them to cultivate interests and hobbies rather than irresponsibly leave them alone with an electronic device. Absence of parenting during kids' growth is the reason for many problems kids may encounter, including gaming disorder.

Parents are teachers and role models for little ones. They need to show self-control in terms of how much time they spend on smartphones for gaming and demonstrate interests in other activities such as reading. That way, they can set positive examples for kids to follow.

Sometimes kids just feel lonely and bored so they obtain satisfaction playing video games. If parents can fill kids' spare time with other activities like visiting museums and hanging out with friends, the little ones will certainly have no time to spend on video games. Gradually, gaming will not be a choice, or at least not a first choice.

In some cases in which teenagers are really interested in video games but only as a hobby, parents should learn how to help them balance gaming and other interests rather than regarding video games as a dreadful monster and recklessly banning gaming altogether. They should at least try to understand why their kids are into gaming, which will help them communicate with their kids.

In a sense, my own experience could be a reference. I am a video game player and I am not ashamed of it. When I was young, I liked playing video games as it was an important connection between me and friends. I was a Grade A student and video games didn't distract me from schoolwork. Not all video games are bad. Some of them can tell good stories as well as classical movies and helped me realize the importance of teamwork.

But my parents didn't think so. They strictly limited my gaming time to 30 minutes per week at that time. I wanted more minutes but knew I wouldn't get them, so I tried my best to make full use of every minute. But as a kid that didn't always quench my thirst. This experience did have an influence on me after I left home.

There was a period when I didn't have too much work to do and gaming took up almost all my spare time. I could sit in front of a computer from around 8 am to midnight just playing video games - afterwards I realized it was a reaction to my upbringing. Fortunately, it wasn't too long before I fell back into my routine.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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