|Practical: Primary school students take part in a Robotics contest held by HCM City ‘s Department of Education and Training and the DTT-Eduspec group. The contest's theme is managing urban waste. — VNA/VNS Photos The Anh
The hi-tech age has brought with it many benefits, but many parents are concerned that addiction to smartphones, tablets and laptops may be detrimental to their children's wellbeing. Ha Nguyen reports.
No one can deny the advantages of digital technology because thanks to information technology (IT), everything is done in an easier, faster and more convenient way, including education of children.
However, modern parents have claimed that there are disadvantages as a result of IT, such as children falling prey to gaming and internet addiction.
They said IT had disrupted family life in a massive way making it difficult for them to control its negative effects on children.
|Virtual reality: Young people plugged in to online gaming.
Nguyen Anh Nhan, a high school student in Ha Noi, has been an internet game addict since he was 14. Despite sitting for his university examinations last July, Nhan often ignored his studies and wasted almost all of his time playing games day and night.
His father, Nguyen Van Duong, said that from a lovely boy, his son had now become peevish and cruel. He did no homework, shared nothing with his parents and was often angry and violent with his family members such as his grandfather, his mother and his younger brother.
"I have explained to my son the harm in playing such games over time and have even announced an award that is worth anything he likes. I have sometimes even beaten him but he just ignores it all.
"I am very worried about my son and want to help him in giving up computer games to continue his studies to sit for the university examinations for the second time this year. If he fails I will propose to the local authorities that they make him join the army. I hope the iron discipline in the army will help my son to give up his game addiction," Duong said.
Like Duong, Hoang Thi Hue, in Ha Noi's Hai Ba Trung District, said she is worried about her daughter, a fan of American singer Miley Cyrus, who often appears in sexy clothes on the Internet.
|Free time: A mother teaches her son how to make a rose in an effort to help him leave his computer for game addiction.
"It could have a negative effect on my 14-year-old," Hue said.
Her friends also claimed that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter attract children a lot, she said. It inculcates numerous bad habits such as violence, debauchery and use of obscene language.
One of Hue's friends had to face the terrible consequences when her minor daughter had to get married at the age of 15 as she became pregnant.
A mother of two, To Thanh Huong, 32, said her sons although aged of 3 and 5, can play games very skilfully.
"They are so enamoured by the games that they are oblivious to anything around them, including my words," Huong said, and added that she was looking for a solution to the problem.
In 2014, the entire society was shocked on hearing about some 13-year-old computer game addicts in the northern province of Thai Nguyen who killed a neighbour because they wanted money for their games.
|Square eyes: It's not only children and youngsters but many adults also become game online and internet addicts. — VNA/VNS Photos Minh Tu
These terrible situations had forced parents in Ha Noi to come together at a meeting to discuss limiting games and internet addiction among children.
At the meeting, Huong's "low-tech" solution of cutting off the power immediately was praised by fellow parents.
Huong said how after returning home from class at 5pm, her elder son, would rush to the computer and play games until 7pm even though she asked him again and again to go out and play with his friends while she prepared dinner.
"He did not listen to anything but continued to concentrate on the game. I was so angry that I went to his computer and immediately shut off power. My son cried as if someone had died, but I ignored him," Huong said.
After that, Huong's son began to obey her. He told her, "You should inform me five minutes in advance, so that I can save my game before you cut off power."
Truong Cong Tuyen, father of a six-year-old son quoted the New York Times' interview of software legend Steve Jobs where he said that contrary to popular belief he had not equipped his home or given his children many technology products. Jobs said he did not allow his children to use an iPad and only allowed them to use a computer or a laptop at certain times to avoid harm and the ill-effects.
Working in the high-tech environment Jobs said he was aware of the ill-effects of IT on the natural development of his children such as violence and pornography.
Walter Isaacson, who wrote Jobs's biography, said, "Steve (Jobs) often talks to his children about a book, history and other matters during meals. None of his children are allowed to use an iPhone or other IT products, so none of them can become game and internet addict as compared to others."
Educationist Shin Yee Jin of South Korea wrote in his book Parents in the Digital Technology that parents should pay more attention to their children by talking and playing with them.
"They should not entrust their children with a smart phone, a TV or other IT means."
|Plugged in: A Korean team competes at a Counter Strike contest in Ha Noi. — VNA/VNA Photo Huy Hung
Viet Nam is among the nations where almost 50 per cent of young people use the Internet, according to NetCitzens Viet Nam.
A national survey on juveniles in Viet Nam 2013 revealed that 73 per cent of the people use the internet, while 50.2 per cent are from the urban areas, and more than 60 per cent of them access the internet for chatting and gaming.
Dr Bui Quang Huy of Military Hospital 103 said that during his research he found that many young people in Viet Nam said they could not live without the internet.
Online games affect the mind and body of players hour after hour and they suffer from sleep disorders, brain and backbone injuries, and even suffer sterility problems. Addicts lost their capacity to concentrate on studies and work and faced loss of memory, and poor eyesight, he said.
Dr Huy has advised parents to not let their children aged under 10 use a smart phone or access a computer, laptop or TV more than two hours a day, and be determined to keep out all IT products from the children's bedroom.
These children should be guided and encouraged to use IT products in an effective way to save their knowledge, and to study and improve their skills, he said.
"Parents who want their children to learn IT should know and promote their creative ideas while encouraging them to develop useful software programmes," Huy said, and added that the FPT is a good school for those young people wanting to study game programming.
Vu Duy Hieu of the FPT secondary school recently won first prize, the Executive Creative Game Award, from the international Digital Campus WeCode contest held by Youth on Unity in Malaysia.
With the theme of Cyber Security, the contest aimed to promote programming passion, capacity and creative thinking of primary and secondary students.
Although representing Viet Nam in the contest for the first time, Hieu and couples Nguyen Ha My-Pham Phuong Linh of Vinschool Primary School and Nguyen Quang Dang-Le Gia Bao of the FPT Secondary School also won team prizes. — VNS