In 2011, South Korea passed a law that forbids children under 16 to play video games between 12.00 a.m. and 6.00 a.m. The law became known as “The Cinderella Law”, or “Shutdown Law”.
Combating gaming addiction or restricting civil liberties?
Prevention of internet and gaming addiction is a worthy goal. The law was passed for that very purpose, in fact. And it’s not the only law of the kind that’s been passed in South Korea. Earlier this year, the government introduced an initiative of obligatory switch-off of office computers at 8 pm on Fridays. Although the reasoning was to stop people from working late, the similarities between the two laws are there. Addiction to working late is just as much of a problem of this century as internet addiction.
But not everyone agrees with the approach. Over two-thirds of employees asked to be exempt from the Friday switch-off initiative. And the Cinderella Law isn’t welcomed by everyone either. In fact, it was even disputed in the country’s Constitutional Court in 2014 on the grounds of being “unconstitutional”. The challenge was unsuccessful, but it’s only one example of resistance the laws of the kind can face.
Is that effective? Necessary?
Internet and gaming addiction is a global problem of this century. And with the constant development of the video games industry, it’s no surprise that children get sucked into the worlds that are getting more and more complex. The compulsion to play them is the inevitable result of this. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the South Korean government, as well as governments of several other countries, had concerns about how they could affect the children.
But how successful is the Cinderella Law really? According to a study done on the effect of the law on Korean adolescents, the law’s effects have been rather insignificant. It didn’t have much effect on children’s sleeping hours or internet addiction. The recommendation was to use different strategies.
Based on the results of the study, it doesn’t seem as though restrictions on Internet usage of teenagers have done much good. Moreover, today’s adolescents are tech-savvy enough to be able to use their parents’ log-in information and remove parental controls on their devices.
In addition, the Cinderella Law hasn’t actually caught up with modern technology. Computer games are only a small part of the gaming market – the children can still play smartphone games and console games. And parental controls on those devices can’t prevent everything.
Should other countries follow suit?
It seems that the Cinderella Law’s good intentions aren’t as effective in practice as expected. And unless it’s significantly modified in ways that take into account modern technology, it’s unlikely it’ll get better.
Should other countries want to implement measures of the sort, they should carefully consider all the implications. And it’ll undoubtedly be challenging. For instance, the laws would have to take into account the technological advancements of the gaming world. Also, one can’t ignore the increasing impact of the industry on many economies.
Like with any addictions, there are many factors that contribute to it, and having the source of addiction readily available is only part of it. A single law preventing access to games is unlikely to take care of all the factors, as the study of the effects of the Cinderella Law has shown us.
Photo credit: All images have used have been taken by Christopher Isak, at Gamescom, for TechAcute.
Source: Thuy Ong (The Verge) / BBC / Jiyun Choi, Hyunseok Cho, Seungmin Lee, Juyeong Kim, Eun-Cheol Park (The Journal of Adolescent Health)
Editorial notice: Gaming is great fun and we support gamers. On the other hand, it’s also important to stay healthy. We believe that there is a balance and a common ground that everybody has to find and manage on their own.