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No, Korea, Gaming Does Not Make You a Bully

Illustration for article titled No, Korea, Gaming Does Not Make You a Bully
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What might kill video games in Korea? The ice age.

Earlier this month, the South Korean government's Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology announced plans for its new game shut down system. The "Cooling Off" system would restrict young people from playing for more than two hours in one day by automatically shutting down the game; gamers will be able to log-in again after 10 minutes of rest only once a day. Moreover, after one hour of play, the system would give warnings periodically.

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South Korea is already placing restrictions on online console gaming at night with a "Shutdown Law" that is designed to block online gaming during a nightly six-hour block.

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Since the end of last year and all throughout this winter, the Korean news has been focusing on bullying and the suicides of the victims of bullying in schools. The Cooling Off system is an effort to cure gaming and internet addiction, which the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology claims to be the chief cause of bullying in schools. There were no references to scientific studies linking school violence to gaming.

The government wants to improve education on game addiction for elementary to high school students. They plan to select students showing signs of video game or internet addiction and try to cure these people of their addiction. This is a very noble cause, but it also sidesteps the more important issue of student bullying and the tragic consequences that follow.

First, the bully must be a game addict for this to work. Let's say that the bully is cured of game addiction. Fantastic. Now, what about his addiction to bullying?

The Korean Wireless Internet Industry Association (MOIBA) remarked that restricting gaming privileges cannot solve school violence, similar to the way that comic book regulations in the 80s did not solve school violence, and further left the Korean comic industry in shambles. The Korean game industry does more business than K-pop or K-dramas, and these restrictions will endanger a continually growing business in order to solve a problem with a rather tenuous connection.

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Dealing with school violence is tricky, so I can't blame the government for reaching such a rushed solution. Personally, I believe that the solution to preventing bullying lies in parenting, education, and community effort, but I'm only one person.

Forget about video games for a moment. People come first. The government should have been asking themselves 'How can we save the lives of our students?' I want to know their answer to that question, not the direction in which they are pointing their fingers.

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MOIBA Criticizes the Cooling Off System [Daum]

(Top photo: PC JunkeesのPCジャンク日記/海外ゲーム事情!/YTN)

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DISCUSSION

School bullying, among other behavior issues in South Korea has more to do with schools having no control or form of punishment for students at all. Ever since they made laws against paddling or any other harmful punishment to students, it seems they haven't really devised any effective means of non-harmful punishment to students that misbehave. I'm told laws seem to prevent teachers from doing anything about it. There's only an illusion for students that they will get in trouble and some students figure that out.

As a foreign English teacher in Korea, I came into the position under the impression that students were much better behaved than those in America, and that wasn't quite the case. I can tell by the behavior of each of my classes how much control their homeroom teachers have over them. A couple of the classes are so out of control its like pulling teeth getting them to stay seated and participate. One of the more well behaved classes has a homeroom teacher that can be a bit intimidating.

When students get into fights, they basically get yelled and lectured at, that's it. Between classes, I caught one student hitting and kicking another kid into a corner outside my classroom. I pulled him off the other kid and held him there until my co-teacher returned. She doesn't speak English that well and doesn't always listen. I told her what happened, and she just quickly yelled at them *both* and told them to go to class.

Just recently, our school had a couple students that ran away from home to a PC Bang in a neighboring city because they were being bullied by other students at school. The school is being blamed for it. I'm not sure what the problem is, but there just doesn't seem to be an effective system in place to deal with bullying. After the incident I witnessed, I would think the parents and the school should have gotten involved to deal with the issue.

I don't see how gaming has anything to do with the problem. The kinds of games my students play are among StarCraft II, Angry Birds, and Nintendo DS games. Not exactly Call of Duty...