[Letters] A wake-up call for computer-game addiction

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[Letters] A wake-up call for computer-game addiction

When I talk to friends and acquaintances around me, they all say it is hard to raise a son. Especially in families with middle and high school boys, parents often have no idea what their sons do or think. The boys tend to barricade themselves in their rooms when they come home from school or afterschool classes, and it becomes harder to have a proper conversation.

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

One of the biggest temptations that lead adolescent boys into deviation are computer games. Boys begin to play games when they are very young and often get hooked on computer games in middle and high school years.

When I attend meetings with parents with middle and high school kids, 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 the computer out of the apartment balcony. A mother has confiscated a 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.

Nearly every parent in Korea has serious issues with computer games today. However, there is very little attention spend on the gaming problem. The media frequently cover the development of the game industry in Korea but rarely address 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 ($6.2 billion). The game industry will certainly bring enormous economic benefits, considering its impact on related industries, such as communications and computer devices.

However, we need to consider that we are paying a greater social cost. In 2009, 940,000 children and young adults were addicted to the Internet. If they get addicted to games, they would suffer seriously.

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 associated with game and Internet addiction is too serious to be approached as a personal issues.

We need to review whether the legal system is properly implemented to prevent gaming problems in advance, whether we have a sufficient budget to take on the issue 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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