Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Editorial: Society must find ways to prevent gaming disorder among children

The government has released the results of its first ever fact-finding survey on video game addiction, a condition marked by long hours playing games, to the extent that it disrupts the person's life.

According to the survey, about 20% of people aged between 10 and 29 spend three hours or more playing games on smartphones and other gadgets per weekday. The longer they play, the harder it becomes for them to quit, and this in turn affects their health and their relationships with others, the data shows.

About half of those who spent six hours of more gaming per weekday saw their day and night lives reversed. Some 40% said they kept on playing games even after they suffered such health effects as sore eyes and headaches. Roughly 30% of respondents saw their academic performance or work efficiency decline. Fifteen percent even said they continued games even after their relationships with friends, lovers and others deteriorated.

For these people, gaming has gone beyond the realm of entertainment.

Unlike alcoholic and gambling addictions, gaming disorder, as video game addiction is known, is commonly found among children and youngsters. Nearly half of those who played games over the past year said they had started playing online games when they were toddlers or elementary school children. Some 80% said they play games on smartphones.

According to a survey conducted by the Cabinet Office in fiscal 2018, some 40% of elementary school pupils and over 90% of high school students have smartphones. The effects those handsets exert on their daily lives is inarguably immense.

Experts point out that children's brains, which are at their developmental stage, are susceptible to adverse effects from gaming addictions. Society must take every step to prevent children from becoming addicted to gaming. It is essential to raise awareness among a wide segment of society about the negative impacts that gaming addiction can have on children. This includes informing their parents.

At home, parents should explain to their kids that too much gaming would cause harm to their health, and set rules for playing games, such as how many hours children are allowed to spend on them each day. There are some consoles that can restrict playing hours and internet connections. It is also important to let children find forms of amusement other than gaming.

It is not uncommon for juvenile gaming addicts to become violent toward their family members when those members try to force them to stop playing games. In such cases, support from experts is imperative.

In May 2019, the World Health Organization newly recognized excessive absorption in gaming as an addiction. Based on the latest survey results, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is set to promote the enhancement of specialized medical treatment and consultation systems.

The gaming industry is also poised to carry out a nationwide fact-finding survey in fiscal 2020. Efforts to address the issue through collaboration between the public and the private sectors are urgently called for.

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media