Date
21 January 2018
Tech giants face a risk that governments might take action to prevent digital overuse and user addiction. Photo: Bloomberg
Tech giants face a risk that governments might take action to prevent digital overuse and user addiction. Photo: Bloomberg

Tech giants need to address the issue of user addiction

The issue of tech addiction has increasingly attracted public attention. For example, Chinese internet giant Tencent came under fire as its popular mobile game Glory of Kings became an obsession among users.

A large number of students as well as adults indulged in the game day and night. Many of them spent large sums in buying game coins and game accessories. Some teen players even skipped classes to play the game.

A number of players even passed out after playing the game non-stop for long hours.

The state mouthpiece People’s Daily criticized the game as “poison” and a “drug” that harms teenagers.

That has prompted Tencent to introduce usage limits, restricting the play time to one hour a day for children aged under 12 and two hours for children between 12 and 18.

Apple is faced with similar challenges, with two major shareholders — JANA Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System — urging the tech giant to address the growing concern that the iPhone is addictive and that overuse could cause “long-term consequences”.

Other tech giants like Alibaba, Facebook and Google have also benefited hugely from customers’ addition.

The biggest risk for these tech giants is that the government might take action to prevent digital overuse due to the growing concerns of adverse social consequences.

Digital monopoly, moral topics, privacy protection are some other hot issues which may prompt the government to introduce regulation of some sort.

To ensure long-term success, leading internet firms should think about how to take proactive actions to balance profitability and social responsibility.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 10

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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