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When online gaming becomes too much

Update: December, 24/2016 - 09:00
Students being treated for online game addiction practise yoga at the IVS boarding school in HCM City’s Thủ Đức District. —VNS Photo Gia Lộc
Viet Nam News

Last year, a special school started in HCM City.

It was for people who had become too carried away with playing games online.

The students at the school stay at the school.

There, they study things like yoga, martial arts and English to become more involved in the real world rather than the online world.

By Gia Lộc

Can you imagine living without a smartphone, tablet or laptop if you are learning in a strictly disciplined environment?

Many young people who have become seriously addicted to online games are doing just that at the Research Institute for Vovinam and Sport Development (IVS) boarding school in HCM City and Bắc Ninh Province in the Red River Delta.

Initially, the students, aged 13 to 25, were uncomfortable without their devices, but within one or two months they became emotionally attached to IVS because of their teachers.

Prior to being sent to the boarding school by their parents, some of the students had been disruptive and even violent.

As internet use has become more widespread in the country, addiction to games has risen dramatically.

In 2014, internet use increased threefold compared to 2005, according to the Việt Nam Digital Landscape 2015 annual report from the Moore Online Solution and Development Corporation.

Among online activities, playing games was the ninth-ranked activity of internet users aged 15 to 24, according to the report.

Việt Nam ranked sixth in Asia in the percentage (52 per cent) of smartphone users. The number of 3G subscriptions also rose from 11.9 per cent in 2012 to 21.4 per cent last year.

Playing games on smartphones was among the top five activities of users online in the country.

Giving up games

Less than 11 months ago, a 23-year-old man from a southeastern province, now a student at IVS, was playing online games for more than 10 hours a day.

“First, I played games during my free time only, and then gradually I became more absorbed when I became a powerful leader in the virtual world,” said the man, a native of Bình Phước Province.

To reach the status of such a powerful leader, he had to spend a lot of time and money on games. As a result, he ended up skipping classes at university.

Not only did he become pale and thin, he also began to get poor marks at school.

His parents, worried about his future, sent him to the IVS branch in HCM City’s Thủ Đức District, which opened last year. The main school in the northern province of Bắc Ninh opened nine years ago. 

“In the beginning, I was uncomfortable and sought every way to get out,” the young man said.

However, he doesn’t want to leave now. He studies English, yoga, life skills and sports at IVS.

“Studying takes most of my time. I don’t have free time to play games,” he said. “This environment is good for me.”

 

Another young man, from the central city of Đà Nẵng, was also sent to IVS because of his obsessive playing of online games, which affected his school work.

“I have stayed at IVS for three months. It has been a joyful time,” the 20-year-old said. “I no longer have a thirst to play games. This is a good environment for me to change my lifestyle.”

The activity of playing online games stimulates the appetite for more playing, according to Đặng Lê Anh, deputy head of IVS.

“It’s very important to help them escape from the virtual world and enjoy the real world,” he said.

The students take part in physical activities and live in a highly disciplined military-like environment.

“Day by day, they recognise that games are useless and the real world is more interesting,” Anh said.

When the school was set up in 2007 in Bắc Ninh, it aimed to help disruptive students who often fell through the cracks of the school system.

Anh said that up to 70 per cent of the students have shown talent in a certain sport, music or art.

“If they are educated in a suitable environment, they can change and their natural aptitudes can develop,” he said.

At the school, students are taught both academic knowledge and Vovinam, a Vietnamese martial art that emphasises ethics, loyalty, respect, music, arts and other sports.

They also learn about suitable careers and how to plan for a job.

Trịnh Phú Sơn, who teaches literature and life skills, and is a manager of a dormitory, said that educating the students, including those who are “naughty and lazy or violent” was the responsibility of teachers.

“Teachers who have an open heart can successfully educate these students,” Sơn said, adding that the teachers should not judge the students too harshly.

“We should study the causes for their behaviour and the family circumstances of each student to try to understand them. And then develop a way to educate them,” he said.

To have a deeper understanding of the students, Sơn and his colleagues live with students at the school’s dormitory.

This helps teachers and students become close, and as a result students share their feelings more easily.

“Life skills are taught every day in this real environment,” Sơn said, adding that the students also learn how to become more independent.

A 14-year-old boy, a native of Nha Trang from the central coastal province of Khánh Hòa, is now a student at IVS in HCM City.

Prior to entering the school, the boy often left home for three or four days at a time, and wanted to drop out of school.

Today, he feels loved by teachers and staff who live at the school’s dormitory.

“I don’t want to drop out of school now,” he said. VNS


 

GLOSSARY

Can you imagine living without a smartphone, tablet or laptop if you are learning in a strictly disciplined environment?

A disciplined environment is a place where there are rules and regulations that people must obey.

Many young people who have become seriously addicted to online games are doing just that at the Research Institute for Vovinam and Sport Development (IVS) boarding school in HCM City and Bắc Ninh Province in the Red River Delta.

To be addicted to something means to desperately need it because you are dependent on having it to keep going.

Initially, the students, aged 13 to 25, were uncomfortable without their devices, but within one or two months they became emotionally attached to IVS because of their teachers.

Initially means “at first”.

To be emotionally attached to a place means to feel attached to it from deep down in your heart.

Prior to being sent to the boarding school by their parents, some of the students had been disruptive and even violent.

Prior to means “before”.

If students are disruptive, they behave in a way that causes trouble to other people.

In 2014, internet use increased threefold compared to 2005, according to the Việt Nam Digital Landscape 2015 annual report from the Moore Online Solution and Development Corporation.

Threefold means “multiplied by three”.

Among online activities, playing games was the ninth-ranked activity of internet users aged 15 to 24, according to the report.

Ninth-ranked means being considered ninth best.

“First, I played games during my free time only, and then gradually I became more absorbed when I became a powerful leader in the virtual world,” said the man, a native of Bình Phước Province.

To become absorbed in something means to give it all your time and attention and not care much about other things happening around you.

The virtual world is the world in which things happen online.

To reach the status of such a powerful leader, he had to spend a lot of time and money on games. As a result, he ended up skipping classes at university.

Your status is your position in society. 

“In the beginning, I was uncomfortable and sought every way to get out,” the young man said.

Sought is the past tense of “seek”, which means to look for something.

Another young man, from the central city of Đà Nẵng, was also sent to IVS because of his obsessive playing of online games, which affected his school work.

Obsessive playing of online games means playing them so much and having them occupy your mind so much that is actually a problem.

The activity of playing online games stimulates the appetite for more playing, according to Đặng Lê Anh, deputy head of IVS.

If online games stimulate your appetite for more playing, it means that they make you hungry to play more just like the smell of good cooking might make you hungry for food.

When the school was set up in 2007 in Bắc Ninh, it aimed to help disruptive students who often fell through the cracks of the school system.

To fall through the cracks means to not be able to keep up with those who are successful, and therefore fail or fall behind.

Anh said that up to 70 per cent of the students have shown talent in a certain sport, music or art.

Talent is a natural skill.

“If they are educated in a suitable environment, they can change and their natural aptitudes can develop,” he said.

Aptitudes are things you are naturally good at.

At the school, students are taught both academic knowledge and Vovinam, a Vietnamese martial art that emphasises ethics, loyalty, respect, music, arts and other sports.

Academic means theoretical.

Ethics are moral principles that act as a guideline on how to behave.

Loyalty means giving support to someone whether they are going through good times or bad times.

Respect means admiration.

Trịnh Phú Sơn, who teaches literature and life skills, and is a manager of a dormitory, said that educating the students, including those who are “naughty and lazy or violent” was the responsibility of teachers.

A dormitory is a room where a number of people sleep.

“Teachers who have an open heart can successfully educate these students,” Sơn said, adding that the teachers should not judge the students too harshly.

To judge means to decide.

“We should study the causes for their behaviour and the family circumstances of each student to try to understand them.

Circumstances are situations.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. A room in which people sleep.
  2. A Vietnamese martial art.
  3. The name of a river in Bc Ninh Province.
  4. The type of institution where a 23-year-old man from a southeastern province who developed an online gaming addiction, had been studying.
  5. One of many different types of device people can use to go online.

 

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ANSWERS: 1. Dormitory; 2. Vovinam; 3. Red; 4. University: 5. Laptop. 

 

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