In the 1990s, headlines such as “Viet gangs take over heroin trade” were commonplace in Australian national newspapers.
My father Mr Vinh Van Le, was a prominent social worker here in the Vietnamese Community here in Adelaide. During this time, my father volunteered to research and author a parenting guide titled “Every child is the same as a little baby”. Vinh received a small government grant to provide this for free as a means to combat this problem within our own community, beginning with the family itself.
Dr Kim Le, child psychiatrist from Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) was recently interviewed by Adelaide’s Mix 102.3 Radio show with Jodi and Soda. This interview was to better help the community and especially parents to better understand the potential negative effects of online computer games, signs to look out for addiction and what steps can be taken to help prevent addiction.
Dr Le was interviewed by ABC Radio Adelaide Drive to discuss the addictive nature of the popular online game Fortnite.
Although a “free-to-play” game, Fortnite made $300million in micro-transactions in March 2018. Most of these transactions are used to buy “Battle-Passes”. These passes unlock “Seasons” which activate players to complete tasks which for some players can become addictive. For example, a child may feel compelled to play longer in order to “complete” the next task. Virtual currency can also be used to buy skins, intangible ways to customise your avatar, which do not affect the game, but may have status or financial attached to this. For example, skins bought cheaply in earlier seasons may be rare and can be sold for real life money for up to $600 each.
Even if your child does not use your credit card to make purchases of virtual currency, then we must then consider that your child has now “become the product”. By allowing players to play for free, players become part of the game, which is a complex ecosystem. This will in turn keep new games spawning to attract and maintain the ecosystem for others that do spend money. In addition, if your child does not spend money now, if they play for long enough, the game might become boring enough for them to want to buy something in order to make the game exciting again.
Servers do not close down and there are unlimited games. This game design strategy is similar to casino game design, in order to make players lose track of time and to keep playing longer. If players play long enough in the end, the house always wins.
Finally, parents who play with their children need to be mindful that they are not enabling the unwanted side effect of addictive gaming. Parents who play online games, have a key role in role-modeling healthy game play and show their children when to turn off. It is also not OK for a parent to allow their child to play in order to enable the parent’s own addictive gaming (adults can also have a gaming disorder/addiction).
Scotch College in conjunction with South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), invited Dr Huu Kim Le to speak with 150 students from 15 Schools across Adelaide at “The State of Wellbeing”, a student focused Mental Health Symposium on Monday 26 September. He was joined by leading experts in positive psychology and wellbeing from Adelaide and internationally.