In 2018, the Incredibles 2 movie was released to an excited audience who had waited fourteen long years to see what happens in the showdown between the Parr family of superheroes and the Underminer supervillain. While the Underminer doesn’t last very long in the movie, a new villain ends up surfacing later on: Screenslaver. This villain had the ability to hypnotize people when they were viewing screens and make them do whatever she wants.
While a simple gimmick featured in a children’s movie, it is a metaphor that compares similarly to the way we view media in this modern age. Screen addiction is on the rise, and it can be dangerous for brain development and impulse control. Usage of television, video games, and phones triggers a dopamine release that pleases the brain. So, when we learn that screen time makes us feel good, we become attracted to an elevated dependency on it. But how do we learn to temper ourselves? How do we help our children learn temperance? Has it gotten so bad that it’s up to the government to tell us how to deal with screen usage?
This week on Trending with Timmerie, Timmerie tackled this topic in light of the new regulations passed in China that limit the video game playtime of minors to three hours per week.
While China’s administration has determined that their young people are playing what they deem to be an inordinate amount of video games, many are questioning the authority of the government to make such a draconian and universal ruling. Even though less screen time could be a healthy life choice, the government choosing to hard limit the time and windows of access was a very unpopular choice. However, it was not surprising, given the controlling history of the communist regime in place in China.
Timmerie welcomed Father Tim Grumbach back to the show to discuss his thoughts on the issue. Father Tim echoed these sentiments that it would be better for people to practice temperance, but it shouldn’t be the government’s call. “I was almost conflicted by this report about limiting the hours of video gaming for young people over in China. I thought well, I think they’re on to something that maybe fewer hours of video gaming would be healthier for them, but as we were saying, our real conflict with this though is, ‘Is that the government’s role? Is that the government’s decision to make?’ And we would both say, ‘No, that’s not for the government to make.’ But it is for the families.”
He went on to say that he grew up with video games and even at the start of quarantine he played video games to cope with the new restrictions. However, there is a stark difference, he noted, between somebody who plays and somebody who is addicted. He was taught when he was younger that there should be a limit to screen consumption. It’s more difficult now that online gaming has become an international affair and that means there will always be other people online. It makes it more difficult to temper one’s usage.
That addictiveness combined with the effects on young brains and the lack of parental supervision being exhibited these days makes for a deteriorating situation. This combination influenced the Chinese government’s decision to issue these regulations, but it was a rash reaction. Instead, Timmerie suggested, parents should be educated on how to better influence children. In lieu of six hours of video games, parents should introduce kids to hobbies, sports outside, non-video games, and reading. The best counter to this allure of prolonged gaming is a well-balanced life and kids should be exposed to ventures that they might not even know they’re interested in.
Listen to the full conversation below:
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