Hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world are eagerly awaiting the annual Eid festival, but the reasons for this enthusiasm are as diverse as the people themselves.
While many see it as an opportunity to take stock of their activities throughout the year, reflect over their misdeeds and reposition themselves for the coming year, others see it as a period to take a much needed vacation away from the hassles of daily life.
However, eid’s goodwill will provide a unique opportunity for youth to request things they have been denied during regular seasons. And topmost on their priorities will be cyber gaming all night.
Cause for Concern
There is a growing concern in Malaysia over kids’ addiction to computer games and internet-gaming. Internet gaming is fast becoming a substitute to drugs. It’s worthy to note that the grouse isn’t necessarily against playing computer games for leisure purposes.
The excessiveness of this act is what is giving them sleepless nights. This likely continues during Eid festivals when youths meet to continue with their cyber rendezvous.
Perhaps if they spent the time they spend on cyber games on their studies, they would score better grades. But can they? There’s certainly no moderation in any form of addiction.
Birds of Feather
Like most other vices such as smoking, excessive internet gaming spread among friends. It starts with harmless interactive games which primary kill time.
They get a tacit approval from their parents who are glad that their kids are indoors. On a daily basis, they meet with groups of friends online through multiplayer game programs.
In one such type of games, the players logon to a “room” divided into smaller 16 gaming “rooms”. Each of these contain 100 “desks” and every “desk” have about four vacant “seats” around it.
After gaining access into the “room”, an individual needs to identify a vacant “seat” around any of the gaming “desks”.
By getting at least one person alongside him around his “desk”, a gamer can remain online as he wants. They can sacrifice precious needs like meals and sleep for the love of the game.
A gamer doesn’t go through stressful convincing of a friend to accompany him to the gaming “room”. This is simply because there are countless numbers of anonymous friends waiting to play the game.
It was shocking to discover that many of youth didn’t really derive any tangible benefit from this activity. On the contrary, they couldn’t refrain from doing it either! Jason, a Chinese student studying in Malaysia, feels internet gaming provides an avenue to kill time.
“I started playing internet games when I was in China. Many Chinese kids don’t have siblings, so we turn to the internet to make friends and kill boredom,” he explained.
The relatively high cost of playing non-virtual games is another reason many youths are turning to this time consuming monster. The cost of playing a game of snooker in the real world is certainly high when compared to the free cost of playing the same game in an internet gaming room.
The secrecy and convenience provided by internet gaming is another reason many youths are abandoning real-life games. A lot of licentious youths play games with obscene graphics which they prefer to keep away from their parents’ and public view.
Hence, internet gaming provides an avenue to indulge in such nefarious act without being reprimanded.
The challenge facing most parents whose kids have been bitten by the cyber gaming bug is how to strike a balance when it comes to their gaming habits for recreational purposes, without them becoming addicted to the game.
There is no doubt that computer games can be highly beneficial to learning especially in this age of information and communication technology, where the availability of a smart learning environment is highly imperative to achieving academic success (Thye).
Dr. Azlina Kosnin, a lecturer at the Faculty of Education at the University of Technology in Malaysia, told OnIslam.net that, “Computer games enhance spatial ability development and skills which are relevant to engineering, mathematics, sciences and for visualization generally.”
“Similarly, it assists in improving eye-hand coordination. The implication of this is that the child who plays computer games is often more likely to respond to a stimulus more spontaneously than one who doesn’t,” she added.
But there are side effects. Kosnin, who has a PhD degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Newcastle in the U.K. and a MSc degree in child development from the Institute of Education of London, said that some of the downsides of getting addicted to internet gaming are:
- Minimal Social Interaction:Kids who are addicted to the internet often have poor communication and social skills, thereby experiencing great difficulty in interacting with the outside world.
- Health Hazards:Children who excessively play computer games often develop sight problems due to straining of their eyes over a long period of time. They also lack sufficient rest at night as they tend to stay up late, playing games.
- Models for Crime:A lot of crimes committed today are actually copied from computer games! Criminals are getting ingenious ideas from these computer games, and they go on to execute what they have seen in these games, in the real world.
But how can you get your teenager to become as disciplined as to walk away from a gaming room when he realizes he is spending too much time there? Even adults who are at the brink of death due to smoking-related ailments find it almost impossible to quit smoking once they become addicted.
In view of its numerous side effects, one might be tempted to call for the outright banning of internet gaming centers, but throwing out the baby along with the bathwater might not be the ideal solution to this menace.
- Thye, Tan. “Need For Strict Enforcement.” New Strait Times (Malaysia). 13 Oct. 2008.
- Madewell, BJ. “Diagnosis Add ADHD, Now What?” Internet Addiction Newsletter. July, 2004.
We have first published this article in 2007 and we currently republish it for its importance.