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Over 90% of gamers not addicted, anti-gaming regs 'irrational': Osaka Univ. lecturer

In this Aug. 10, 2018 file photo, a person plays a game on their smartphone. (Mainichi)
Sohei Ide, a lecturer at Osaka University, speaks at a seminar in the Kagawa Prefecture capital of Takamatsu on Jan. 25, 2020. (Mainichi/Yukinao Kin)

TAKAMATSU -- A university lecturer has criticized an anti-gaming addiction ordinance, which includes regulations on play time for children aged under 18, as unreasonable, saying that less than 10% of players actually become addicted to gaming.

The Kagawa Prefectural Assembly in western Japan is working to put an ordinance on measures against internet and gaming addiction into force in April 2020. The ordinance draft released on Jan. 20 by the assembly's working group included time restrictions of 60 minutes per day on weekdays and 90 minutes on weekends for gamers aged 17 and younger.

Sohei Ide, a part-time lecturer at Osaka University who specializes in sociology and psychiatry, and studies social recluses and school absenteeism, delivered a lecture to some 60 concerned citizens at a local chamber of commerce in the Kagawa prefectural capital of Takamatsu on Jan. 25. In his talk, organized by a group aiming to protect manga, anime and games, Ide said that, according to research carried out in Germany in 2014 targeting people aged 14-40, over 90% of the subjects did not have problems with gaming addiction.

"It is irrational to approach the issue by slapping rules on everyone (as suggested in the draft ordinance)," Ide stated, adding that blanket time restrictions would affect the more-than-90% who have no addiction problems.

He also touched on South Korea's 2011 "shutdown law," which imposes time restrictions on online gaming for children aged under 16, and claimed that its effect was only temporary, casting doubt on the efficacy of time restrictions.

Ide argued that mental conditions such as depression and anxiety are behind internet and gaming addiction. He said, "The best way is to detect those with issues and approach them individually."

(Japanese original by Yukinao Kin, Takamatsu Bureau)

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