The effects of too much gambling on minors



Children playing video games online
Image credit: Getty Images

China recently announced a strict law on the number of hours allowed to play online video games for people under the age of 18. Under the new law, the maximum limit is 3 hours per week – weekends only and 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Why all this protection? And what are its justifications?

Let’s start with the Chinese population, which is around 1.5 billion, and 18% of them are under the age of 16. This represents around 270 million people.

Two years ago, online video games were banned from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. and limited to a maximum of 3 hours per day in China. Then the number of hours was reduced to 1.5 hours per day and 3 hours on weekends. Now, the new law prohibits playing during the week. A total of 3 hours is allowed during the weekend.

After the enactment of the law, all video companies operating in the Chinese market are required to use the real names of subscribers and verify their age after subscribers register based on their official identity.

An ideal environment

The Chinese government has also called on families, schools and other sectors of society to create an ideal environment for the healthy growth of minors, which is a shared responsibility of all parties who have guardianship over this group of children. age.

Relevantly, the size of the global video game market reached $ 160 billion by the end of 2020, which is larger than the film and music industries combined. Growth in video game sales is expected to reach $ 270 billion by 2025. Today, nearly 40% of total sales are concentrated in East and Southeast Asia and India, including China , where the online video game market reached $ 40 billion.

Video game addiction is not just a Chinese problem, but a global one. The World Health Organization has described this addiction as a “health and psychological condition and a major problem that threatens public health”. Today, there are specialized clinics to treat people diagnosed as “video game addicts”.

In the United States of America, the Harvard Medical School website reports that half of Americans play video games and 20% of gamers are under the age of 18. Additionally, the American Psychological Association confirms that addiction to these games causes insomnia, anxiety, depression, introversion, and aggressive behavior.

A dangerous obsession

In addition to the mental illnesses mentioned, there are physical and intellectual problems that make the matter more dangerous. The high rate of obesity in children, caused by lack of movement when playing in front of screens, has serious consequences if left untreated.

As for the intellectual effects, they come from the fact that some games promote extremist ideas. The creators of these games deliberately use historical symbols and events, and carry in their essence an idea that encourages rejection of the other because of their different beliefs.

Not only that, but some video games call for the need to fight each other under dangerous pretexts, and into this environment some are drawn into after having reprogrammed their brains. In this struggle from the virtual world to the real world, innocent minds suffer and some allow themselves to be swayed by extremist instincts.

Entertainment in education

Fortunately, the world agrees on the dangers of this new addiction, but countries’ policies to deal with it differ. As China’s online gambling policy hardened, its neighbor South Korea had a different view. His government recently overturned a law limiting the number of hours of video games for minors, and left it to parents, who are the ones who determine the number of hours their children spend in front of video game screens.

Entertainment is part of education and in today’s world it feels natural for children as their life in the virtual world is a reality that cannot be completely ignored. The problem is to moderate the time spent online.

Losing hours of playing video games can have psychological, physical and intellectual effects that can negatively affect the behavior and health of children and young adults. It also makes them less competitive when it comes to entering and succeeding in the future job market.

As adults, we have a duty to take these elements into account and convince our children of the advantages and disadvantages of video games. The next generation must understand that life is a healthy combination of work and play.

Ali Al Ahmad is an Emirati diplomat


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