Thu, Dec 13, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Group warns of risks of Internet gaming addiction

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Dropping-out from school and deteriorating health are just two of the consequences of Internet game addiction, the Child Welfare League Foundation warned yesterday, while urging the government and parents to take preventive measures.

A survey released by the foundation yesterday showed that nearly 90 percent of respondents said they play Internet games.

The survey of 1,818 elementary and junior high school students showed that among Internet game players, "nearly 20 percent play for more than three hours a day on school days ? and on weekends or holidays, the figure grows to 43.8 percent," foundation executive director Alicea Wang (王育敏) said at a press conference yesterday.

More than 10 percent of the children go to bed after midnight or stay up all night to play Internet games, Wang said, citing survey results.

"It really worries us that 40 percent of the children surveyed have five indices of Internet addiction, while 4.2 percent match all eight indices," Wang said.

The indices include overconcentration on Internet activities, feeling depressed or short-tempered when not using the Internet and a willingness to sacrifice interpersonal relationships, the survey said.

"In a case of child Internet game addiction I've handled, the child would often hit doors and throw things when prohibited from playing Internet games," Wu Hsue-ling (吳學岭), a child psychiatrist from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital told the press conference.

"Sometimes, the child's mother had to give the child sleeping pills to calm the child down," Wu said. "It's hard to deal with when a child becomes addicted to Internet games -- hence parents should take preventive measures to stop the addiction from happening."

Wang urged the government to strictly enforce the Internet game rating system.

"A lot of computer games with content that should be rated `restricted' were not rated at all," Wang said. "This allowed children to be exposed to inappropriate game content."

According to the Computer Software Rating Regulation (電腦軟體分級辦法), computer software -- including game software -- should be classified into four classes according to content.

Games with sexual or excessively violent content should be put into the restricted class according to the regulation.

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