Parents and lawmakers unite for game regulation

More than 95 percent of parents want authorities to introduce measures that stop teenagers from indulging in online games, a survey found.

This came after mainland authorities pulled the plug on minors’ video game addiction last month by banning them from playing video games for over three hours a week.

Under-18s from the mainland can now only play online games for an hour per day – from 8pm to 9pm – on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

The survey by Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which looked into teenagers’ online game addiction, polled 463 parents online from September 6 to 10.

In Hong Kong, 97 percent of parents said their children played online games.

More than 50 percent said their children played online games for over three hours a day whereas nearly 20 percent had said their children played more than five hours every day.

Additionally, over 20 percent said their children bought virtual commodities from online games – a habit parents thought caused growing game addiction.

Likewise, 75 percent of parents thought online games had affected their children’s school performance.

Among them, 43 percent witnessed their children’s academic performance going downhill.

Further, 95 percent thought online games would affect their children’s health, and almost 80 percent thought online games had impacted family relations.

DAB lawmaker Vincent Cheng Wing-shun appealed to game developers to help teenagers avoid unhealthy gaming habits. He added that if the developers do not take action, the government should intervene.

“Right now, we see zero protection from game developers who adopt a free-range attitude toward teenagers’ use of online games,” he said.

“The developers allow teenagers to play their games with obscene or violent content as well as make in-game purchases … This is not ideal.”

He also recommended authorities learn from the mainland’s actions in curbing teenagers’ growing game addiction.

This included rolling out real-name registration requirement for game players, limiting the time minors could play online games per week and regulating game content, Cheng said.

“Authorities should ban games with obscene, bloody and violent content as well as forbid in-game purchases catered to minors,” he said.

Starry Lee Wai-king, also a party lawmaker, admitted that her children played online games as well.

“There is a dilemma as to whether I should let my children play online games, as doing so can be therapeutic for them,” she said.

“But I am worried about the activity’s impact on their eyesight as well.”

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