On August 31st, 1962, Trinidad and Tobago gained Independence from British rule. It was on midnight of August 30th, 1962, that the Red, Black & White, was hoisted and became the colors that symbolized courage, dedication, purity and equality. Not only did this mark a significant milestone in our Nation’s history, it also signified a sense of independence for the people of the nation. It allowed anyone to make choices for themselves without interference or imposition of authority. Being independent meant the ability to examine alternatives and make informed decisions and direct one’s own life.
Fast-forward to 2021, where a small amount of that freedom and independence is taken away due to the onset of a global pandemic. Measures were taken by the government to make decisions on behalf of the public, with the intention of controlling the spread of COVID-19. It would be done in the best interest of the public to avoid a potential deadly outcome.
Governments are put in power to ensure the safety and security of the majority of the citizenry. In some cases however, the policies handed down by a government to protect the citizenry, can be interpreted as draconian. We will let you refer to your experiences and determine if what you are about to read is indeed draconian or a harsh, but needed approach.
In 2019, China introduced a law that banned minors from playing video games between 10 pm and 8 am, or for playing more than 90 minutes on a weekdays, and up to three hours on holidays.
In August of 2021, they further announced that online gamers under the age of 18 will only be allowed to play games for an hour, between 8pm and 9pm, on Fridays, weekends and holidays with specific mention of the hugely popular game Honor of Kings, by Tencent. The Chinese national press had also indicated that instructions were given to gaming companies to prevent children playing outside those times.
The catalyst of all this, Gaming Addiction and a concern by Chinese authorities on this and other harmful online activities among youth. They have gone so far as to brand online games as electronic drugs. “No industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation,” they said before going on to liken online games to “spiritual opium”.
CyberSafeTT has often spoken about the ills of Internet Addiction which also covers Gaming Addiction and it is through our educational presentations to parents and kids that we hope to encourage responsible screen time management and use of the internet.
The Chinese authorities however, have taken a different approach with punitive action against big tech companies who have been accused of endangering minors’ physical and mental health through the use of their technologies.
Tencent has again come under fire from The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) for not cleaning up seven types of illegal content present in their ever popular chat tool QQ. Those illegal content includes:
- Children on live streams and becoming social media influencers, promoting “money worship” and extravagance.
- Pornographic and violent content.
- Inappropriate cartoons that had erotic and violent content.
- Forums that encourage behavior like suicide or engaging in child porn.
- Fan clubs where children were involved in fundraising activities.
- “Bad social behavior” such as cyberbullying.
- Inadequate measures to combat youth internet addiction.
China hasn’t been the only culture to wake up to the harmful damage gaming addiction can cause to children, though they’ve been the only ones to implement measures that many may see as draconian. Gaming Addiction has recently been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a psychiatric ‘handbook’ used to list all mental health disorders and diagnose them appropriately. The condition ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’ is listed up there with gambling addiction and substance addiction.
Research has also suggested how 1 to 16 per cent of video gamers meet the criteria for addiction—when unaddressed, such an addiction could have a detrimental impact on mental health and work or social life.
So how can we take preventative action to curb internet or gaming addiction in our homes and schools? You can start with having a conversation about too much screen time and getting in a mix of adequate hours of rest and non-screen activities which should include a significant percentage of physical activity.
Consider also following the tips listed below and take a Digital Detox:3