I would like to respond to a letter on ‘Ban all online games, save the future’, published in the Opinion page on March 3 by first saying, the call to ban all online games is too extreme.
Like all things in life, it is not a black-and-white matter. The author should consider the benefits of online gaming – encouraging creativity and problem solving, improving hand-eye coordination, relieving stress, beating boredom and stimulating the mind to beat ageing-related illnesses.
Instead of looking to deprive thousands of online gaming, the author could try a localised solution, such as switching off the Wi-Fi, setting time limit or using site blocking services on the router.
Secondly, online gaming depends on electronic devices, which means it can be switched off. Thus, it should not have been compared to actual drug addiction. There is a long process to ‘gaming addiction’ as the author calls it. How did the child develop it in the first place? Did the parents not see it coming? It is the parents’ responsibility to monitor children’s screen time and set reasonable limits. The author should not be surprised if this so-called addiction is enabled by hands-off parenting.
Some self-reflection is also in order. Is the author providing a mutually respectful environment for the children? Are the interactions filled with high conflicts such as nagging and scolding? Can the children share their feelings without being belittled or dismissed? Parents should be more open minded and put themselves in their children’s shoes. Missing that may drive the children to treating online gaming as a refuge where they can talk with people without the negative response.
I would like to suggest for the author to engage his or her children in stimulating activities such as reading, sports, arts and crafts or nature walk. Or better yet, find out what the children’s interests lie and invest time and efforts into these interests.
Perhaps the issue lies in knowing very little about gaming. Thus, the author could try out a few games and see the appeal. Rather than being dismissive, try and understand where the children are coming from or even encourage them to take up learning programmes, graphic design or animation. These skills are highly sought after, especially now that we are aiming to becoming a Smart Nation.