It was shocking news that a 15-year-old middle school student strangled his mother to death in a fit of anger during an argument over his playing of games and then took his own life last week in Busan. The tragedy shows how destructive his game addiction was. The boy had been addicted to a first person shooter (FPS), a violent combat game where the character uses guns and other weapons.
The case was not the first of its kind in the nation. In February, a man in his 20s killed his mother who scolded him for doing nothing but playing Internet games. In March, a couple let their three-month-old daughter starve to death by feeding the baby only once or twice a day, while being too preoccupied with raising a virtual girl character in a role-playing game. Regrettably, the unemployed parents seemed to have put a cyber world ahead of reality.
Early this year, a 32-year-old man died at an Internet cafe after playing computer games for five days in a row with few breaks and meals. A middle school girl was caught selling sex to make money for online games. All the cases demonstrated that cyber game addiction not only destroys the players but also bring about terrible consequences for their families and society. That’s why the addiction should no longer be considered as just a personal problem.
Prevention is the best policy of tackling the byproduct of advanced information and telecommunication (IT) technologies. However, it is easier said than done. Right after the starvation of the baby girl, the government came up with anti-addiction measures, including software programs to limit users’ access time to the online network. It has also decided to offer educational programs and counseling services to 10 million people, including schoolchildren, over the next three years.
But, such measures are not sufficient to help prevent individuals from becoming victims of cyberspace and virtual reality games. According to the National Information Society Agency, the number of addicts to online games is estimated at 1.9 million, or 8.5 percent of the total Internet users. Minors show a much higher addiction rate of 12.8 percent.
What’s more important is to raise public awareness about the addictive nature of online games. Parents, teachers and policymakers must work together more closely to protect schoolchildren from the electronic narcotics at the earliest possible. It is also necessary for individuals to form a good habit of refraining from going too far in the use of the Internet and cyber games. Especially, children should not forget an old adage: what is learned in the cradle is carried to the grave.