From anecdotal evidence, I sense some parents are battling to curb their children’s long hours of computer usage that prevent them from leading a balanced life-style.
Take a walk on the streets and you can see the video games centres of the 1990s have given way to large dimly lit computer games centres. Inside, row upon row of young people wearing headphones, sit glued to computer monitors, many of them engrossed in violent games.
I took a look at some young teenagers playing a computer games and was shocked to see how violent and gruesome some of these games can be. When a sniper or commando shoots a human target, the “blood” even splatters on the view-finder displayed on the screen. In another game, the “hero” races down the road on a motorcycle until he reaches the side of a moving car. Then he pulls opens the door of the car, throws the driver out and takes control of the vehicle.
In one such centre in Penang, a six-year-old girl, her legs still unable to reach the floor, was deftly manipulating the controls to a computer game.
How do we expect children and teenagers to draw the line between the violence of the virtual world and acceptable behaviour in real life? Does it not worry us that such explicit violence is being normalised and internalised subconciously?
At home, many teens and children are glued to their desktops, laptops or smartphones and hardly get much exercise (of course, our outdoor recreational spaces have been dwindling as well), much less have time for their family and friends. As internet social networking savvy improves, so too does real-life social interaction suffer.
Are schools teaching impressionable young minds how to use technology appropriately, setting guidelines on limits for computer usage, and warning pupils and parents about the dangers of violent computer games? Are there counselling sessions for children and parent support groups?
What role do parents have to play? and how do they go about it when they are usually out working to put food on the table? Increasingly, parents find it difficult to impose and enforce limits as certain schools give homework that requires pupils to research their work online. Some of them open a few tabs and flip between their homework and other sites or computer games, resulting in long hours online.
What’s your experience? Do you think this is a serious problem among the youth (and not a few adults as well)? Or is it just a passing phase which they will hopefully outgrow?