[Letters] Social attention for computer game addiction

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[Letters] Social attention for computer game addiction

When I talk to friends and acquaintances around me, they all say it is hard to raise a son. Especially the families with teenage boys, the parents often have no idea what they do or think. The boys tend to shut themselves in their rooms when they come home from school or after-school classes and it is hard to have a proper conversation.

The challenges that parents face while raising a boy is closely related to the spread of electronic media and internet, such as online games, adult contents and smart phones, to which many teenage boys have easy access and get addicted to.

One of the biggest temptations that lead adolescent boys into deviation is computer games. Boys begin to play games when they are very young and often get hooked on computer games in their middle and high school years. When I attend a meeting with parents with teenagers, we always talk about the confrontation between parents and children. The parents are trying to ban or limit game playing while some teenagers cannot live without computer games.

A father said he had thrown away the computer out of the apartment balcony and a mother has confiscated the computer mouse. Parents unplugged the keyboard from the computer and brought it to the meeting to make sure their son didn’t play games while they were away.

Nowadays, computer games are highly advanced and addictive and once you indulge yourself into game playing, you might not be able to distinguish reality from the virtual world.

Nearly every parent in Korea has serious issues with computer games today. However, there is very little social attention to the gaming issue. The media frequently cover the development of the game industry in Korea but rarely address the computer game addiction and the struggles that children and teenagers go through.

The total revenue of the game-related businesses in Korea is over 7 trillion won ($6.32 billion). The game industry will certainly bring enormous economic benefit, considering its impact on related industries such as communications and computer devices. However, we need to consider if we are paying a greater social cost.

As of 2009, 940,000 children and young adults are addicted to the internet. If they get addicted to games, they would suffer serious consequences.

Today, many parents with adolescent sons are struggling and hiding the problem within the family. While they hush up the addiction and downplay the problems, the social cost related with game and internet addiction is too serious to be approached as personal issues.

We need to review whether the legal system is properly implemented to prevent gaming problems in advance, whether we have sufficient budget and whether we have appropriate rehabilitation programs. With constant consideration for those suffering from addiction, we have to continue to work together as a society to treat this problem.

An Yeong-gyun, a certified public accountant.
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