Teen Pushes Back on Government's Gaming Rules

Japan's Wataru, 17, says limits on video games, smartphone use are unconstitutional
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2020 11:46 AM CDT
Local Rules Curbed Gaming Time. This Teen Got a Lawyer
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/by sonmez)

In 2018, the World Health Organization added "gaming disorder" to its official list of addictive diseases. This past April, the Kagawa prefecture government on Japan's Shikoku island decided to address the issue head-on, putting in place regulations that asked parents to limit the playing of video games by kids 19 and under to just an hour on school nights and 90 minutes on holidays and weekend days. AFP reported last month that the ordinance also limits smartphone use, suggesting kids 12 to 15 turn off their devices by 9pm, while teens 15 to 18 should shut down by 10pm. Now, however, one high school student, with the help of his single mom and one of the nation's top lawyers, is pushing back on the regulations, saying there's no scientific evidence that such rules will help curb addiction, and that they're unconstitutional and an infringement on individual and family rights.

"I thought, rather than waiting for someone to take action on my behalf, if I took action for myself, that could have a powerful impact on society," Wataru, 17, tells the New York Times in a video interview, which the paper notes sucked up some of his allotted online time (even though he disagrees with the regulations, he's abiding by them). By the time Wataru's challenge is addressed, he might be old enough that it's moot: His attorney expects the case will take several years to work its way through the court system. Still, the teen says he's not fighting this fight just for himself, telling AFP last month that he thinks video games can be a good stress-reliever, and that children should be allowed to have their fun. "The kids who are younger than me are still going to be affected," he tells the Times. "If I don't do something, who will?" (More Japan stories.)

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