With online games becoming a rage, Hong Kong is witnessing a rise in addiction cases, a local community welfare group said, also pointing to growing numbers of people that have suffered heavy financial losses or ended with huge debts due to the game-addiction.
Chan Mei-lo, supervisor of Integrated Centre on Addiction Prevention & Treatment of Tung Wah Group, Hong Kong’s oldest and largest charity group, said she got to know about 211 addiction cases in various categories between October 2012 and August this year.
Of those, 73 cases — or 35 percent — were specifically related to online game addiction, the highest among all types of addiction, she said, according to Sky Post.
The centre provides counseling and treatment services for such addicts, among other initiatives.
Some social workers say one potential source of online game addiction is parents buying fancy mobile phones for children, who normally lack the ability to restrain themselves.
An expert said young people are easily attracted by stimulating colors and animation in online games. Purported rewards from playing games also make it harder for the youngsters to stop.
Chan believes that about 10 percent of the online game addicts are into debt. One of the main reasons for that is that players pay for virtual weapons that are needed in games, accumulating a lot of card debt before they know it.
One case cited by her is that of a 25-year-old unemployed man who spent continuously on online games for two years and is now saddled with a debt of about HK$130,000 (US$16,774), with no capacity to repay that.
Chan warns that parents should not turn a blind eye to children’s dependence on mobile gadgets.
According to one report, 34 percent of the people suffering from online addiction are between the ages of 12 and 17, while 22 percent are between 18 and 29. The figures suggest that addiction takes root at young age.
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