Recently, there were two competing claims about on-line games. One party claims that on-line games are a threat to youths. It is found that some of these gamers spend countless hours playing games such as Ragnarok and World of Warcraft rather than engaging in more productive activities. Some gamers are known to have spent a lot of monies for internet access in cybercafes to feed their obsession with these cybergames. Some gamers are even known to have skipped meals or feed on a diet of soft drinks, chips, buns and even cigarettes.
On the other hand, some gamers and cybercafe operators have poo-poohed the idea and claimed that these on-line games are actually doing more good than harm. Some gamers say they are able to make side-income through these games by accumulating virtual items whilst playing the games and then selling these virtual items to interested gamers. Why not make some money while enjoying a game or two? Better be playing computer games at home or cybercafes than getting involved in drugs or crime activities. A cybercafe owner even went to the extent of questioning parents who doubted the benefits of online games by saying that such online games are probably safer than activities these parents used to do when these parents were youths (he quoted himself as swimming in an ex-mining pool).
When I read the comparison of activities these gamers and cybercafe operators offer on the supposedly better benefits of being involved in online-games than drugs, crime or loitering in shopping malls, I cannot but make a similar comparison as follows:-
Do you really think for a moment that it is better to have sex with a prostitute than rape a woman? Either way, there is no justification for either activities and I do not tolerate these activities.
"It is better to pay a prostitute and have sex with the prostitute than rape a woman when your hormones are out of control"
Call it an extreme comparison if you like but I like these extreme comparisons to put a point across. And my point is this:- Why are the gamers and cybercafe operators not making comparisons of the benefits of the online games with "healthier activities" such as engaging in sports (football, futsal, badminton, squash, swimming, gymnasium exercises etc), volunteering in charitable organisations, Rakan Muda (is it still in existence??), Hash House Harriers etc.? Hey, they should volunteer for Rukun Tetangga if they have insomnia at night and want to bash up some criminals in their midst (which is what they do when they play these online games anyway). Of course, I was joking about the bashing up of criminals but you get the picture.
If side-income or even full-time income is required, there are plenty of job opportunities available. They can always work part-time in hotels as banquet waiters. I used to work part-time on weekends for a food catering restaurant. I get paid RM25 per night excluding tips. The pay is not bad, I would say but the experience invaluable. I get to interact with guests and learn to deal with their needs and complaints. I learn patience and humbleness through waiting. Or how about working as surveyors for companies which compile statistics for their clients? Actually, there are a lot of job opportunities available if one is determined enough to find and humble enough to try out. And I dare say, working in those environment gives you a better learning experience than making money through endless hours of computer gaming with minimal human interaction. Is that any wonder why there are a lot of comments from human resources personnel in companies who lament that recent years' graduates lack proper communication skills?
I would also mention that spending hours on computer games rob the family of precious time for bonding. Or is it that the parents are never around since they are busy working? I must quote what a cybercafe operator, Mr. Andrew Cheah, had said "But as cybercafe operators, this is as much as we can do. In the end, it's up to parents to discipline and curb their children from going overboard with any activity". I agree with him on this point.
Isn't it true? Parents still remain the biggest influence and counsel over the lives of their children. The world today competes with the parents over the attention of the children and youths in the form of entertainment such as MTVs, computer games and perhaps, even blogging! These media take charge in imparting values to the impressionable young. Some blogsites with vulgarities are even considered cool. But is it really? If vulgarities are acceptable in cyberspace, why not teach our young these vulgarities so that they can use vulgarities and be cool about it?
So, what are we doing today to make a real difference to the lives of children and youths? Or are we spending too much time working for that salary (which will never be enough as long as you say it is not enough) whilst neglecting our primary duty to bond and shape our children and youths?
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