LCQ20: Preventing youths from being addicted to video game playing

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, in the Legislative Council today (April 25):


     It has been reported that the World Health Organization plans to classify "gaming disorder" as one of the diseases hazardous to mental health when it updates the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in the middle of this year.  On preventing youths from being addicted to video game playing, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of requests for assistance received by the authorities in each of the past three years concerning youths' addiction to video game playing (with a breakdown by age and gender of addicts), and how the authorities helped the assistance seekers;

(2) of the details of the public education efforts currently made to prevent youths from being addicted to video game playing;

(3) whether it will allocate additional resources to assist parents in handling the problem of their children being addicted to video game playing; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) whether it has assessed if the inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD will impact on the implementation of the existing insurance laws; if it has, of the details; if it has not, the reasons for that; and

(5) whether it has conducted studies on the adverse impact of the development of the electronic sports industry on youths; if so, of the details; if not, whether it will conduct such studies?



     Having consulted the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and the Innovation and Technology Bureau, my reply to Hon Chan Hak-kan's question is as follows:

(1) The multi-disciplinary teams of the psychiatric services in the Hospital Authority (HA) comprising healthcare practitioners in various disciplines, including doctors, nurses, clinical psychologists, medical social workers and occupational therapists etc., provide comprehensive and continuous mental health services, including in-patient, out-patient, day rehabilitation training and community support services, to psychiatric patients (including adolescents with mental health problems due to addiction to video game playing) having regard to the severity of their condition and clinical needs.

     HA does not have the number of adolescents with mental health problems due to addiction to video game playing.

(2) Different government bureaux and departments, non-government organisations (NGOs), schools and other organisations have been providing various services and programmes to address the problem of excessive use of Internet (including Internet-based games). In addition to the publication of the Report of the Advisory Group on Health Effects of Use of Internet and Electronic Screen Products in 2014, the Department of Health (DH) has also set up a designated web page on Healthy Use of Internet and Electronic Screen Products (Note) and uploaded relevant information and resources to offer assistance to children and other relevant target groups (e.g. parents and teachers). The DH has been working closely with schools and NGOs to promulgate the healthy use of Internet and electronic screen products among students and adolescents.

(3) While only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities may have Gaming Disorder, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it results in the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour. WHO plans to include Gaming Disorder in the new version of International Classification of Diseases (ICD), relevant bureaux and departments will act accordingly to provide appropriate responses.

(4) The Insurance Ordinance (Cap. 41) aims to regulate the carrying on of insurance business; to establish the Insurance Authority with prescribed functions and regulatory powers (including powers of intervention and powers to take disciplinary actions); and to set out provisions applicable to insurers and insurance intermediaries for their compliance. As the Ordinance has no direct connection with the ICD, inclusion of Gaming Disorder in the new version of ICD will not affect the operation of the Ordinance.

     However, should Gaming Disorder be identified as one of the diseases that jeopardises psychological health, depending on the provisions of individual policies, insurance companies may need to amend the definition of "sickness" or "disease" in the terms and conditions of individual medical insurance policies.

(5) Cyberport conducted a study in 2017 to explore the latest e-sports technology and product development, and published the Report on Promotion of E-sports Development in Hong Kong in February this year. Apart from the recommendations to support the industry in organising e-sports competitions and promote the development of related technology industries, the Report points out the concerns of some parents and teachers (such as students and teenagers addicted to "video gaming" or "playing video games") and suggests taking measures to enhance the positive image of e-sports. Cyberport will launch a series of public promotion and engagement activities, including seminars, small-scale e-sports competitions and exhibitions on game history and products. Cyberport will also set up an experience corner at the future Cyberport e-sports and digital entertainment node and invite e-sports and digital entertainment corporations to showcase related new technologies and e-sports products to raise the public's positive understanding and interest in e-sports, game development and related technologies.

     Cyberport will study the effectiveness of these activities and the views of various stakeholders, and strengthen such public promotion and education in the community with reference to the actual circumstances.

     E-sports competitions are conducted mostly on a team basis (each team has five players). Team competition emphasises on systematic training and requires team members to receive prolonged training and build rapport among themselves, cooperate and communicate with one another, and align with the professional analysis and tactics of the coaches and the team.  E-sports is a group activity. The report also highlights that e-sports training can facilitate the building up of self-confidence, team spirit and sense of achievement etc. for the player, which is different from the recreational pastime of "playing video games" and "video gaming" that centred around the player only.


Ends/Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Issued at HKT 18:04