Online gaming: is it really that bad?

Written by Eunie Jeong


On the 4th of March, Renaissance College announced a ban on the use of laptops during recess. The College’s concern relates to student involvement in online interactive gaming. But the news was not welcomed by everyone, with some students feeling that an important part of their life was being taken away from them. So why is this leisure laptop use seen so negatively?

Although some point out the benefits, such as making friends, chasing away boredom, and creating a sense of community, it seems the school felt that the shortcomings outweighed the benefits. For instance, can friendships formed through gaming last? When one feels lonely and down, will virtual friends give comfort?

CBS News reports that more than 50% of teens make online friendship. But only one out of five teenagers have actually met their online friends. Can we guarantee that these relationships are safe? Some may even try to take advantage of the friendship. For instance, people may steal personal information and hack into your account.

On the other hand, without gaming, break times can be devoted to making real friends. Since the ban, students have started to stay outside and play games, like cards or socialize. Communicating with each other without looking at screens is a good start for true friendship.

Online activity has been shown to have certain negative effects on health. Too much laptop time can cause problems with the eyes, headache, fatigue, difficulty focusing, and shoulder and neck pain. It is strongly advised by the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth that screen time should be limited to two hours a day. Yet a survey of Year 7 students in Renaissance College has shown that on an average day, most students already use more than two hours looking at a screen and then spend more than an hour gaming. Many students do see the risks of getting addicted to games, and find it hard to manage their time. So isn’t the school going in the right direction in helping students control their time?

Our health should be our number one concern, as it is one of the main factors in future happiness and success. With all the homework and classes a normal Year 7 student has, it is essential to be able to control your time. Physical activity should be done at least one hour to keep fit. That is the main reason why all schools have P.E. lessons, but these are of course not sufficient. Not only do we just do it a few times a week, but the teacher also spends a considerable part of the lesson in non-physical activities, such as giving out instructions.

A few small but important problems that arose before the ban on laptop use, were that instead of having snacks, relieving themselves and drinking water, some students spent time gaming up until exactly 11 o’clock. The consequences were that they would feel the need to go to the bathroom, not even ten minutes into the lesson. Additionally, although it was only half-way through the day, many students had very little computer battery left, even if they had charged it to 100% the night before, as gaming discharges the battery quicker than normal.

Looking at time management, students’ health, and other issues, temporarily rules have had to be set to help Year 7 students form new habits. However, it is more important that students are guided to take care of their time on their own and learn to use self-control to manage their lives.