The gaming industry is booming more than ever with releases being made all around from Novomatic slots to imitations of the famous Candy Crush game. This success has also led to numerous authorities making efforts towards video game censorship. The Japanese prefecture Kagawa is among the regions that have passed an ordinance to limit the playing of video games by those under the age of eighteen to one hour per day. The government put the law together to combat what feels like a rapid increase in the video game and smartphone dependency among minors, which affects social and school activities.
In its current form, the video game restricting ordinances limits screen time to one hour per day for residences under eighteen years. During weekends, they get an additional thirty minutes. Minors that are in junior high school and lower also have to shut off devices by 9 pm and others get an extension to 10 pm. The implementation of this law is still not the most effective since it depends on parents only to enforce the rule. Also, no penalties are included for those caught in violation of the law.
Pros of the Video Game Restriction
The passing of the smartphone use by minors in Kagawa prefecture aims to address the global issue of gaming addiction. This law has received a flurry of reactions from the citizens, with some of them seeing the upsides it comes with such as:
Reduce the Rate of Addiction
The most significant downside that comes with the widespread engagement of video games is addiction. In fact, the World Health Organization has the gaming disorder listed in its International Classification of Disease, and numerous people have undergone treatment in England and other countries. The addiction to video games comes from the dependence of high dopamine levels that are released when playing games. What’s worse is that the sets are crafted to be addictive by providing rewards in strategic times and places. Since children have poor impulse control, unlike most adults, the limitation on gaming time makes them less vulnerable to dependency, while allowing them to have some fun still every day.
Increased Physical Activity
Video games have over the years been noted to have effects on physical health, just like mental health. This form of entertainment feeds into the increasing rates of child obesity, which is quickly becoming a global pandemic. With most video games requiring no physical activity to accomplish the gameplay goals, children are accumulating excessive fat that leads to impaired health. This disease also drives up the risk of other complication such as:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney failure
Being still for long hours also results in video-induced seizures as well as skeletal and muscular disorders. With this ban in place, children will have a lot more time to engage in physical activity and reduce the risk of contracting such illnesses.
Higher Academic Achievement
With more time being spent on video games and less on schoolwork, poor academic performance is expected. Studies by a school of professional psychology in Minnesota found that kids who spend a lot of time playing video games display aggression with teachers and other students, which leads them to score lower grades. Also, frequent video gamers often choose to play their sets rather than do homework or other school-related activities when left alone or at home. Those that spend less time gaming, on the other hand, drive up their school achievements and can better separate work and play.
Better Concentration Ability
Although a lot of studies show that video games help to improve concentration, it only helps with a short-term focus. A lot of video games, especially when engaged for long periods, have adverse effects on the attention span of children. Kids that play games for long hours usually have no problem completing small tasks that require short attention spans. However, they exhibit damaged long-term concentration. When gaming is reduced to an hour, they can practice on focusing on other things that do not reward them with such high levels of dopamine. Also, it aids children with focus issues, such as ADHD to have fewer symptoms.
Better Interaction with the Real World
When children indulge in video games for too long, they replace other aspects of their life or impact them negatively. The web’s ability to make the world a small community allows kids to hang out with others, even without leaving their homes. Although this is an upside, virtual interaction is far from the physical kind. Limiting video games eliminates the social replacement of face-to-face interactions. It also curbs other potential issues like falling prey to sexual predators posing as children and bullies on multiplayer games and chat rooms. Avoiding such encounters makes it easier for them to practice social skills without fear of falling victim. Also, it affords them the much-needed time to daydream so that they can explore anxieties, process independent thoughts, and air them with guardians so that they can get proper reassurance.
Even though video games prove to be an outlet for violence for some gamers, they can still instil the wrong values in a significant percentage of children. Since kids are impressionable, it becomes easier for them to pick up false values. For instance, they can perceive aggression and vengeance as rewardable actions. Also, when negotiating, non-violent approaches to reaching a solution are generally off the table. With only one hour to ninety minutes of gaming every day, kids can learn how to be more sensitive to the moral issues of the real world and contribute to better behaviour.
Separate Reality and Fantasy
Short gaming spans every day are an ideal way for children to learn how to separate reality from fantasy. Kids are usually impressionable, and playing for too long at a young age forms a distorted idea of what the world is like. With more time in their hands, one can explore how reality works by interacting with real people in real-world situations.
On the other hand, this ordinance has seen numerous residents opposed to the move. Some of the negative effects it may have on children include:
Cause for Controversy
The split opinions on the restriction of gaming in Kagawa, Japan has resulted in a lot of controversies. Lawmakers in the country are split on the move, and some residents have moved to court to challenge the limit. Wataru, one of the teenagers in the region, has taken up the mantle of a crusader to tell off the government that it is families’ choice how much time they spend on their smartphones. Even though few constitutional challenges have been won against the nation’s rules, he is working with some premier lawyers to have it reversed.
Inhibit Nurturing Skills
Considering that we live in a high-tech world where almost everything depends on the sophistication of computer technology, limiting gaming time will restrict a lot of children from mapping out some skills. The right kinds of video games are a great way to introduce kids to the online world while allowing them to learn how to recognize visual cues, focus on tasks, map out their surroundings, and practice inductive reasoning as well as hypothesis testing. Without the games, children have to depend on analogue approaches which are fast being left behind and are more cumbersome.
Even though most video games contribute to long hours of immobility that leads to obesity and other diseases, some of them encourage it.
- Games like Nintendo Wii that play using motion control help children to increase their activity level.
- Other games like Pokémon Go that are readily available on smartphones require kids to leave the house and embark on a real-life treasure hunt for little alien-like creatures.
The one-hour limit on gaming and smartphone use pushes down the exercise rate of children that depend on such applications to keep themselves fit and interact with the real world in a fun and new way.
Limit Various Studying Forms
Even though video games are mainly used for entertainment, some of them come in handy to teach useful life and career skills. For instance, aviation students can use flight simulators that mimic flying a plane through a visual representation of the real world. Such students may find it hard to progress through their studies with only one hour to spare every day.
No Implementation Method
The Japanese Diet may have passed the law restricting video gaming to one hour for children, but there are no agencies put in place to enforce it. Therefore, the restriction is nothing more than the equivalent of a blue law like those imposed in parts of the United States. This law can only work if the government also forces tech giants like Microsoft, Sony, Apple, Google, and other console and smartphone developers to add nanny backdoor programs. Such programs also only work when installed in not only the software but hardware, as well. As it stands right now, the restriction is likely only to become another means to hassle citizens for no reason.
The limitation on screen time for Kagawa minors has both its upsides and downsides. The ordinance may have several positive effects on the lives of children, but it also overlooks the increasing need for tech-savvy people in the Japanese government. Therefore, it is likely not to hold weight in the long run.