METRO PLUS

Mousetrap?

Sunday. 8 am. A motley group of children, some sitting on their bicycles and others on the road, anxiously wait their turn outside a video game parlour at Ponniamman Koil junction in Lawspet. Many regret being late. The parlour is open from 7 a.m. and when you peep in you can see several young faces hooked to the screen. Vinod, a Standard VI student is one of the first to step in. His right hand is bandaged, after a fall last week. But that doesn't deter him from moving the mouse left, right and centre.

He doesn't seem interested in talking to you, as every second counts for him. The parlour charges Rs. 20 per hour. After considerable prodding he just says, "I come here once a fortnight and the only games I play are wrestling and car racing."

Just a stone's throw away is another game parlour (if you site the parlour.

Negative impact

"My father gives me Rs. 100 every week. Sometimes I spend it on myself and sometimes on my friends," says Nagaraj. It is not just children who flock to Arbuthraj's game parlour. Even auto drivers from the nearby stand come. Ramesh, an auto driver, said, "We have learnt most of these games. When we don't get savari we spend our time in the parlour. One needs to spend only Rs. 10 for an hour here."

It's a strict 30-minutes everyday rule for Jaiks. But his mother rues that he has lost interest in reading as he finds the computer more fascinating.

It's a strict 30-minutes everyday rule for Jaiks. But his mother rues that he has lost interest in reading as he finds the computer more fascinating.  

The growing number of game parlours shows the changing lifestyle and interests of youngsters. But one may ask, does it augur well for the children in the long run?

"As long as they play occasionally it is fine. Once it becomes an obsession, it will lead to a lack of concentration and sleep disorders. Besides, the violent games could lead to behavioural problems," says Dr. Chandrasekhar, Head of the Department, Psychiatry, JIPMER.

According to him, "Parents should keep a constant watch on the games that kids play and also the time they spend on them." Instead of the kids choosing the games they want to play at the parlours, it will be better if parents monitored their choice and this is possible if the facility is available at home. Five-year-old Rakshit indulges in his passion for video games at his father's khadi showroom. "I allow my son to play only educational games," says Ashish Bhatt, owner of Khadder.

The Josephs have a strict `only 30 minutes everyday' rule for their son, Jaiks. "But it is sad that he has lost interest in reading as he finds the computer more fascinating," rues Abey Joseph, his mother. �