Cyberwellness – a cure for gaming addiction?
15, November, 2007 3 Comments
Gaming addiction became the centre of attention this week when Singaporean MP, Ellen Lee from Sembawang GRC, shared in Parliament how her nephew became a cyber addict and is now in ‘debt’, having lost $80, 000 of virtual currency to a bully who stole his assets after forcing him to reveal his game password. (This of course, brings forth another issue about virtual assets and if any legal protection is offered.)
Her story threw up other stories that were shared about youngsters dropping out of school and sitting in front of the computer for more than 12 hours a day, playing hugely addictive games like World of Warcraft and MapleStory.
Not only does the gaming addiction affect the lives of the players themselves, they often also destroy the lives of hapless and helpless parents who know little about the games and even much less about how to prevent or stop the addiction in their children. (Though incidentally, there was mention of a girl asking for help for her father’s addiction!)
It’s no wonder that with such destructive effects of gaming, it’s been likened to fire: “It can be a good servant or a bad master” says Mr Thomas Chong, director of education initiatives of Infocomm Asia Holdings, a leading game publisher.
The negative effects of cybergaming have made many question the benefits it’s touted to have and if those outweigh its problems. Proponents of gaming such as Marc Prensky who wrote the book, Don’t bother me, Ma; I’m learning, tout the positive educational and social effects of gaming. However, I’m sure many who know the gaming addicts would beg to differ with his views.
Thankfully, the concept of cyberwellness seems to be catching on. According to the Internet Safety Zone, cyberwellness “is a holistic term which encompasses not only concerns around safety and security online, but also considers people’s psychological and emotional well being, along with stage of development with specific regard to the range of issues that may affect children and young people in their use of new mobile and internet technologies”.
Gaming addiction prevention and cure is certainly part of cyberwellness. Thankfully, there are groups that are now forming and being set up to look into this. They include Touch Community’s Plant Crush Cyberwellness Centre and Fei Yue Community Services Project 180.
Thanks to such centres that recognise that gaming has more than play-ful consequences, more young people can get some help before their virtual cybergame problems become all to real.
The old adage of moderation in everything certainly holds true here.