Dads of Pre-Teens: Keeping your Kid’s Computer Game Addiction at Bay

Video Gaming with Your Kid

A father and son having a meaningful time as they take turns playing and watching each other play.

A father and son having a meaningful time as they take turns playing and watching each other play.

Video gaming is huge. In fact, the computer game industry far surpassed Hollywood some years back. Just imagine, the top ever grossing computer game, World of Warcraft, which has easily made more than US$200 million a month for the past few years, is still making this much every month. Compare that with what the top-grossing movie has made, and you get the picture.

Since the Youth Olympics is round the corner, let us talk about a form of gaming called eSports,  and how dads like you can engage in a meaningful time with your kids and family through video games.

What is Competitive Gaming?

Top gamers around Asia gathered in Taipei for the Intel Extreme Masters at the Taipei Game Show in February 2010

Top gamers around Asia gathered in Taipei for the Intel Extreme Masters at the Taipei Game Show in February 2010

eSports is a word coined to describe competitive cybergaming or online video gaming. Also known as Cybersports, it is perhaps the biggest in a country like South Korea, and these gamers do not play the way you or I play.

They have a much more disciplined approach in their training, not unlike that of professional athletes except that the physical activities are focused on the fingers.

Interestingly, Singaporeans have done very well in the international eSports arena with medals won in the World Cyber Games as well as other international tournaments like the Championship Gaming Series (which is now defunct, unfortunately).

Dr Yeo Ning Hong, patron of Singapore National Olympic Council and patron of Singapore’s Cybersports & Online Gaming Association (SCOGA), had this to say about Singapore eSports:

“The Korean girls have done something outstanding by being among the top 10 in practically all the major championships in golf, with the occasional wins in some of the major tournaments. The Russian girls are outstanding in Tennis, with their occasional wins also. Singapore should aim to excel in some sport. Since we are generally not gifted in physical prowess, eSports may be an area where we can specialise, and excel in due course.”

Dr Yeo made this statement through SCOGA in 2008 and now, we know that Singapore can do well in sports like Table Tennis too!

Gaming: Getting Better or Distracted?

According to an informal survey by SCOGA in 2009 on 2,478 students aged 13-18, more than 95% of Singapore’s students play games. This probably means that it is very hard to keep your child away from the computer screen.

In this increasingly digitalized world, instead of trying to stop your child (and maybe even yourself) from playing games, a better approach might be to use this as a way to engage, bond, and learn about your child.

You can also take the opportunity to guide them so that they know how to manage and excel in this digital world which they will grow up and navigate in.

What Game is Your Kid Playing?

Nicholas Aaron Khoo, Co-founder and Chairman of SCOGA being interviewed on one of ESPN Star Sport’s highest rated shows “Game” which has just started its fourth season.

Nicholas Aaron Khoo, Co-founder and Chairman of SCOGA being interviewed on one of ESPN Star Sport’s highest rated shows “Game” which has just started its fourth season.

The Dads for Life Resource Team caught up with Nicholas Aaron Khoo, Co-founder and Chairman of SCOGA, to get his take on eSports:

“As our patron Dr Yeo mentioned, eSports has huge potential to bring Singapore to the top of the global stage and this is one of SCOGA’s core functions, to make sure Singapore is well represented in the international eSports arena.

However, these top gamers are few and far between and today many of our youths have the mistaken notion that they can become like one of them and end up spending too much time in front of their computer screens and lose interest in their studies.

In fact, according to SCOGA’s survey, this amounts to more the 32% of Singaporean students’ attitudes today. This can be a serious problem and SCOGA tries to visit as many schools and speak to as many students and teachers about this as we can.

We find that one of the most important ingredients in addressing the problem of gaming addiction is to involve and educate the parents. Parents need to spend time understanding the games that their children play and agree on a time schedule with them so that they can balance between work and play.

Video games can be a great way to bond with your children too, especially if you are a father.”

SCOGA Advisor and former national bowler Mike Lam with his family bonding together over a game of Wii Bowling at the Asian Children’s Festival 2009.

SCOGA Advisor and former national bowler Mike Lam with his family bonding together over a game of Wii Bowling at the Asian Children’s Festival 2009.

According to Mr Khoo, SCOGA has encountered dads, some unlikely ones, who make the effort to be interested in the computer games their kids play, and join in on the action too:

“Some dads make the effort to game with their children. Some of them are not able to keep up with their kids and the kids find their dads too slow. But still, I believe the effort helps the father and son bond a lot.

I know I wish my dad would have gamed with me and guided me. There are other benefits of gaming with your children too.

For example, one of our advisors Mike Lam, a former National Bowler, told me how horrified he was to see his three-year-old boy play a game that taught how to cheat and lie. Although Mike was not happy about it, he also cleverly made use of this opportunity to teach his young boy the right values.”

Bonding, Guiding & Keeping Gaming Addiction at Bay

So, it looks like there is good sense in connecting with your child using video games. Not only will you be able to become closer with your kids, you can also guide them and keep them out of addiction.

Here are five practical tips:

1. Work on a weekly time allowance instead of a daily time allowance. Some games like Maplestory and World of Warcraft require them to spend a lot of time together with their friends online on certain days, and less time on other days.

2. Make your kid accountable for their own use of time by reporting to you the time that they spend each week. If they are responsible, reward them with more time in future. If they lie about the time they spent, discipline and penalise them by giving them less time in future.

3. After playing with them, chat about some of the scenarios encountered in the game. For example, if it is on witchcraft, you can ask them about whether it exists in real life, and if does, why they should not get involved in it.

If it is about shooting and killing people, you can talk about the ethical issues involved, in games which feature terrorists, take the opportunity to explain about terrorism.

4. Identify positive characters in the game your child can emulate. You can talk about the hero, his career path, and what your child needs to do in order to be as successful as this character, For example, to complete a medical degree, or exercise hard to lose weight if your kid is bordering on the plump side.

5. Last but not least, be a role model yourself by showing your children how you balance between work and play. Let them know they can do the same too.

Most importantly, have fun! As a wise man once said, “A family that plays together, stays together”!


About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.


First published on 31-03-2011.

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Categories: 4 Dads of Pre-teens, Ages and Stages

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