Some parents and companies are suing South Korea of its six-month-old law that aims at preventing teenagers from using online gaming services after midnight.
The law, called the Shutdown Law, is designed to keep users under the age of sixteen from accessing online gaming services from midnight to 6AM. Examples of the kinds of services affected by this new law include the PSN and Xbox Live.
Although the Shutdown Law is now drawing some lawsuits, it has not deterred the Korean government from pursuing further legislation such as the Cooling Off system, which would automatically shut down games if a minor had been playing it for longer than two hours. The user can log back in after ten minutes, although periodic warnings will advise the individual to stop playing.
The lawsuit has yet to reach fruition, and it remains to be seen if the current public backlash against these laws will be enough to deter the Korean government from pursuing additional measures against teenage gaming.
Analysis: To be fair, there is such a thing as playing too video games too much, and young children are exceptionally prone to it. However, shutting down games at specific times and prohibiting teenagers from playing games isn’t going to be remarkably helpful. A child who is going to pursue recreation all day instead of moderating their play time with actual periods of productiveness aren’t going to suddenly change their habits from these laws. At the end of the day, it’s the parents who need to instill a sense of order and discipline in their children, not the government.
If Internet and gaming addiction really is such a rampant issue in Korea, I think more helpful measures would be to educate children on the dangers of spending all day playing video games at the detriment of real-life responsibilites, or to create parks in urban areas to allow children to pursue other forms of recreation other than video games. I know that one of the reasons I spent so much time on the Internet when I was younger was because I moved to a neighborhood with no other guys my age, which meant I had to entertain myself every day, and I think there are some parallels between that and the highly urbanized South Korea. If the government wants the youth to stop playing so many video games, then they should focus on engaging them in positive ways rather than just shutting off the computer or the Xbox.
In the end, legislation like the Shutdown Law or the Cooling Off law simply treat the symptoms, not the disease. You can’t just shut off a game and say, “Go study!” and expect children to follow suit. Instead, you need to instill in them a sense of discipline as well as engage them in positive activities, which is a parent’s job, not the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology’s job.