Nearly two months after the first 8-week computer game rehabilitation course closed, Pham Le Long, a 13-year-old game addict, and nearly 20 other gamers have escaped from their addiction to return to the real world.
|The first online game rehab class in HCM City last November.|
“I only surf the web for around one hour a week to seek information and email my friends. I gave up games!” affirmed Long, who lived with computer games day and night before he attended the rehabilitation course held by the Southern Teenage Centre.
Long’s mother, Le Thi Huong, recalled: “Before I sent him to the rehabilitation class, Long used to play hooky to play computer games at Internet cafÃ©s. His world was the fighting of a knight-errant to save beauties.”
The mother said because of game addiction, Long didn’t pay attention to studies or his family. She immediately sent the boy to the first game rehabilitation class in Vietnam, event though she didn’t have high hopes for it.
After eight weeks attending this special class, from a boy who sat the whole day in front of a computer to live in a virtual world of violence, Long returned to his real life: his friends at school and his family.
Mrs. Nguyet, the mother of Khoa, a 10th grader who was heavily addicted to computer games, was very happy to see her son recovering from his addiction. She said because of games, Khoa fell from an excellent student to a weak one.
“He used to live in the cyber world in violent games. For a time he became very aggressive. He stole money from me to pay for games. He said he needed money to buy something called kim nguyen bao to fight in the Tong Kim battle,” Nguyet said.
Thanks to the course, Khoa has returned to school and forgotten his virtual world.
“Forester” was the nickname of Hai, a 20-year-old boy who was likewise addicted. He used to be very alone, living in his own world of computer games, so he was called “Forester”. Hai has also returned to the real world since this course.
“Baby-sitters” of game rehabilitation class
Coordinators of the Southern Teenage Centre took care of computer game addicts like real “baby-sitters”. The centre’s acting director Nguyen Thanh Nhan said: “We treated them like our children or relatives. We always encouraged them, never put them down. We had a different approach to each class member to help them escape from their addiction to games.”
Nhan said the centre invited psychologists to come to talk and organise group activities for game addicts such as painting, writing a diary, telling stories and playing group games in order to lure their minds from the virtual world to the real life.
“Our first game rehabilitation class was successful, beyond my expectations thanks to the efforts of over 40 people. 40 coordinators served only 20 class members. They were whole-hearted baby-sitters and their efforts brought game addicts back to the real world,” Nhan said.
He said the class applied three therapies — emotional, physical strength and social activities – to help game addicts give up their old passion to welcome new, useful passions.
Social sharing needed
As the centre has announced it will organise a second course, many parents from southern provinces went to HCM City to ask for the centre’s advice. Some said that their children threatened to commit suicide whenever they were banned from playing computer games.
“He said he would quit school, steal money and threatened to commit suicide if I didn’t give money to him to play games. I’m helpless!” complained a mother from Binh Duong province.
Some parents say that game addiction may be more dangerous than drug addiction.
Nhan, who has learnt about game rehabilitation models in many countries, said: “Drug addicts try to hide their habit but game addicts show off to the world that they are powerful gamers. Both types of the addiction have the same goal: seeking money to satisfy their addiction. Computer game addiction is as dangerous as drug addiction.”
He said on the first day of the first game rehabilitation class, some “students” didn’t know who they were and they talked to their parents like their friends. It was very difficult to rehabilitate them from the cyber world.
According to Nhan, some game addicts are in serious situations and need assistance from doctors. He said the government should give a hand to social associations to prevent game addiction.
There are no official statistics about game addicts in Vietnam but with the stormy development of the Internet, the number of game addicts is believed to very high. With 80% of class members giving up their addiction and 20% able to control themselves with games, the first class was a great success.
The second class will open in June 2009 with 36 “addicts”, and last ten days. Under the guidance of the Ho Chi Minh Youth Union, such a class will be opened in Hanoi.