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Joint effort required to stop gaming addiction

By Yi Xiaomin | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-10-29 15:57

The National Press and Publication Administration has tightened requirements for online game companies to limit service hours for minors.[Photo/IC]

Nearly two months ago on Sept 30, the State Press and Publication Administration issued a notice on effectively preventing minors from being addicted to online games. The notice stipulated that all online game enterprises may only provide one hour of service to minors from 8 to 9 pm daily on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays. Online game user accounts must be registered and logged in with their real names. Users who have not registered and logged in with their real names will not be able to access the games.

Since it was issued, the notice has drawn mixed reactions. Some were positive, seeing it as a far-sighted move by the government to help children get rid of their addiction to online games, but others were negative, thinking it not very useful as some children have ways to get around this restriction. For instance, kids could use the identity information of their parents or grandparents to bypass facial verification.

As far as I am concerned, this notice is essential and makes a big difference. First of all, there must be some requirements in such a regulation, as online games are addictive for minors with weak self-control. The playing cycle of these games encourages repetition and habitual playing in its very structure.

Achievement mechanisms in online games such as daily tasks and continuous sign-ups increase user stickiness. Players feel success, joy, and excitement by playing the game, and this kind of experience continues after going offline.

Secondly, the restriction has had a good effect so far, with more children spending time playing sports with their friends offline, which helps children stay healthy and promotes friendship with others.

It is also important to note only this restriction cannot prevent gaming addiction once and for all, and it needs concentrated efforts from all parties to rid children of their addiction to games. It is irresponsible to put all the blame on this restriction if children continue to indulge.

Duan Zhongxian, a researcher and deputy director of a high-end think tank at Guizhou University, has said: "Effectively solving minors' addiction to online games is a systematic project. Relying only on technical anti-addiction systems is far from enough and concentrated participation of multiple parties including families, schools and society are required. The role of good examples and parental involvement are notably important."

Parents themselves need to be good role models for their children. As we all know, parents are children's first teachers, and their behavior has a direct influence. Sometimes parents ask their children to stop playing online games, but they still spend a lot of time on their phones. In that case, even if children are urged to read a book, they will still have some of their attention on the online games or videos played by their parents. So parents should set a good example for their children. They could do their work or read quietly to enhance the learning atmosphere so their children can concentrate on their studies.

Parents should also spend more time with their children. The most crucial reason why minors are addicted to online games is lack of time with parents. Parents could help their children do homework and experience the joy of overcoming difficult problems together. In children's spare time, parents could carry out some offline parent-child activities such as painting, doing crafts or sports. As a consequence, online games would not become the only entertainment for children, and the relationship between parents and children would be closer.

In society, the accessibility of sports facilities should be enhanced. The community is the main place for young people to engage in activities besides school. However, existing community fitness facilities mainly cater to the fitness needs of adults. The equipment poses certain hazards for children, and many places have ignored the needs of children when doing community fitness renovations. Yang Yang, chair of the Athletes Committee of the Beijing Winter Olympic Organizing Committee, has said she believes current community sports facilities for young people are insufficient. Sports facilities should be developed in accordance with young people's sporting abilities at different ages. For example, climbing frames, slides and swings should be set up for younger children, and sports grounds and facilities including that of basketball, football, table tennis and roller skating should be provided for young people. After fixing shortcomings in the equipment, more children will turn to sports. Parents and children playing sports in the community will not only create a sports atmosphere, but it also brings families and neighborhoods closer together.

The impact of sports on children is long-lasting and ongoing. A ball game can improve a variety of abilities such as social and athletic skills, but a virtual ball game may not have many benefits beyond exercising keyboard skills and brain reflexes. If children invest too much time in virtual games, pain and gain are inevitably unequal. That is to say, people put a lot of time and energy in the game but get very little improvement in their abilities, which is not conducive to the development of children in modern society. Therefore, no matter how much the gaming industry claims "gaming is good for the brain" and "gaming is an art", spending too much time on video games is more harmful than beneficial, so limiting video games is a good thing for social development.

Under the policy of game restriction, parents should also take responsibility for family education and corresponding sports facilities should be promoted to help children grow up healthier. Only through joint efforts from families, schools, society and the government can the addiction to games among minors be completely eradicated. This will allow children to return to reality and spend more time and energy on real life, their studies, exercising, experiencing nature and society, reading, thinking, and interacting with family and friends.

Yi Xiaomin is a MA student majoring in English linguistics at Shandong University (Weihai).

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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