Gaming used as platform to warn of dangers of addiction

Problem may arise from the lack of a sense of accomplishment in the real world: Expert

Full-time national serviceman Royden Lim (in black with yellow wrist tag on his left hand), 21, participating in an e-sports competition at Our Tampines Hub yesterday. He used to spend around 10 hours a day playing video games, but an argument with his pa
Full-time national serviceman Royden Lim (in black with yellow wrist tag on his left hand), 21, participating in an e-sports competition at Our Tampines Hub yesterday. He used to spend around 10 hours a day playing video games, but an argument with his parents helped changed his priorities. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

As a teenager, Mr Royden Lim spent around 10 hours a day playing video games such as Halo. He had turned to gaming to escape from the real world, but it came at the expense of his family ties.

A heated argument with his parents, which included him questioning their love for him compared with his two siblings, led to a "very real and hard wake-up call".

His parents had told him: "It's not that we love you any less, it's that you are no longer around as much."

The incident spurred a change in his priorities and he began to spend more time on other things, such as reading about animals.

The 21-year-old full-time national serviceman still enjoys gaming these days, and was one of around 120 young people who took part in an e-sports competition at Our Tampines Hub yesterday.

The competition, which drew participants aged between 13 and 21, was organised by the North East Community Development Council (CDC) and Care Corner Youth Go to raise awareness of gaming addiction and mental health wellness.

Event partners such as the Singapore Association for Mental Health and charity group Touch Community Services set up booths to promote mental health services.

Touch Cyber Wellness head Shem Yao, who moderated a mental health awareness dialogue at the event, said parents are usually the ones who flag troubling behaviour and symptoms of gaming addiction.

More attuned and sensitive to their children's behaviour, parents usually notice these symptoms, which include a lack of sleep and academic neglect, he said.

Mr Jeremy Oliveiro, membership chair of the Singapore Psychological Society, said the main reason for gaming addiction for some people is the lack of a sense of accomplishment in the real world.

 
 

"The gaming world is like an escape for them because in the gaming world, you can be whoever you are, your identity is very different... and there's a certain freedom that comes with that mask or avatar, which is why they feel more confident or more successful in the gaming world," said Mr Oliveiro, one of the panellists at the dialogue.

North East District Mayor Desmond Choo noted that for the first time, the CDC was using gaming as a platform to promote mental wellness. He added that gaming is "very accessible" to the youth.

"The message that we want a lot of our younger Singaporeans to know is that while you game as a way to destress, it can lead to addiction (and other problems)," he said, adding that social stigma was a key problem since it deterred young people from seeking help.

Mr Choo, an MP for Tampines GRC, said: "What we're trying to promote is not that gaming is bad, but to practice responsible gaming."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 15, 2019, with the headline 'Gaming used as platform to warn of dangers of addiction'. Print Edition | Subscribe