Computer Game and Internet Addiction: The Emergence of a New Clinical Disorder

bluskies.jpgA few days ago, I was at my aunt’s neighborhood to check for possible houses for sale. One of the most important considerations for moving in a new neighborhood is a fast internet connection. I visited an internet cafe inside the neighborhood, just a few meters from the vilage church. It was 8:00 PM and the internet cafe brimmed with high school and even grade school students playing some kind of war game, possibly Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) , an expanded version of Warcraft. I was horrified to see these kids. Shouldn’t they be studying? It upset me that the parents are not monitoring their children’s whereabouts.

Then I read today’s article in Manila Bulletin . “Computer ‘Addicts’ Rise in Defense of their hobby”

Better Games than drugs. Who would disagree with this reasoning esecially when cited by teenagers hooked on computer games? This is the reason why computer game afionados should not be restricted in pursuing their hobby, said Gladys, a self-confessed computer game addict

So is that reason for their leniency? Addiction is addiction is addiction. The symptons are the same as any addiction. These kids are becoming addicted to the Internet or Computer Games in much that same way that others became addicted to drugs or alcohol which result in academic, social, and occupational impairment. Although computer addiction is the lesser evil compared to drug addiction, it nevertheless takes away the priorities of these children. Even if they are done with their homework, they should be reading books. What have I done to ensure that my kids (who were in high school ) were never hooked to the computer.

1. There was only one computer to be shared by the whole family.
2. The computer is located near a high traffic area, the kitchen. This is to ensure that I can easily monitor their online activities.
3. I never allowed computer games to be installed in the computer unless they were educational in nature like mysteries or adventure. A favorite game was the classic “Oregon Trail” and the “Storybook Weaver” for creative writing.
4. Only one hour usage allowed if playing these educational games.

They never complained of their computer time because they had other activities such as singing, swimming and tons of books to read. I believe that kids know their priorities if the parent helps establish it. Now that the kids are in college, I have faith that the priorities are ingrained in their minds. I provided them their own personal computer which they need for the paperwork requirements and the freedom to install games which can alleviate school-related stress.

What are we to do with these kids who have lost their priorities because of their addiction? They will only realize the bad effects of their addiction once they get failing marks . As long as they are doing well in school, they will continue to play or go online. Parents need to draw boundaries once their kids start using the computer or even game consoles. What can the government do? According to the Business Promotion and Development Office (BPDO) of the Mania City Hall, they are not strict when it comes to releasing permits of the Internet Shops since so far, there is no particular ordinance governing their operation. However the BPDO is strict in implementing two policies:

1. That all computer shops must be 50 meters away from churches, schoools and government institutions
2. and that there should be a notice saying that minors are not allowed to play during school hours or from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

No wonder there are a lot of kids at that time of the night. I still believe that minor children should be at their own homes , monitored by their parents. I strongly suggest that internet cafes allow a maximum one hour usage during school days (from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM). The laws should be changed that minor children shouldn’t be playing games during school days. I believe children can be taught the wise use of the computer as early as 6 years old and that parents should be firm with their discipline towards the welfare of their children’s educational growth.