Featured Article: “90 Minutes a Day, Until 10 P.M.: China Sets Rules for Young Gamers”
No playing video games after 10 p.m. No more than 90 minutes of gaming on weekdays. These are just some of the rules the Chinese government has released to curb video game addiction among young people, which they blame for a rise in nearsightedness and poor academic performance.
In this lesson, students consider whether fears about video gaming are valid or overblown, and evaluate whether China’s strategy toward internet addiction seems to be the right approach.
For each of the following statements, say whether you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree. Then, discuss with your classmates or in writing why you think the way you do. (Note to teacher: If you’re doing this in a classroom context, you might do it as a Four Corners activity.)
Video game addiction is a problem in society, especially for young people.
Parents should have rules about how much and when their children can play video games.
The government should set limits on how much and when users younger than 18 can play video games.
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. Why has China instituted new rules around video gaming for users younger than 18? What problems do they attempt to address?
2. The Chinese state-run media has likened some games to “poison.” Why?
3. What are some ways that video gamers might get around these regulations?
4. How might the new policy impact technology companies in China? What about companies in the West?
5. How have the rules been greeted by some parents and gamers?
6. What is your reaction to China’s policy? Would you want your government to implement something similar? Why or why not?
In 2014, we featured the seven-minute Op-Doc “China’s Web Junkies” in our weekly Film Club. Watch the film, and then write about or discuss these questions:
What moments in this film stood out for you? Why?
Were there any surprises? Anything that challenged what you know — or thought you knew?
What reaction do you have to the images of the internet treatment addiction center in the film? What does the center remind you of? Why?
Do you think internet addiction is a real disorder that requires treatment? Do young people experience “screen addiction” here in the United States?
Are there other reasons, besides addiction, that young people might spend so much time playing video games and using the internet? The center’s director, in a lecture to parents, says loneliness is a factor. What do you think?
Do you think the boot camp-style treatment being used at the center will be successful? Why?
How does this film add to your understanding, or change your opinion about, the article you read about China’s new rules for young gamers?
What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? Why?
You can learn more about internet addiction centers in China in this article by the filmmakers, Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia.