"Sir why don't all of you teachers start a nationwide campaign to pressure our government to ban PUBG?"

This was one unexpected request made by one of the parents during our virtual parent-teacher meeting. Exasperated parents, who have too much money and too little time, are unable to control their pampered children. We have witnessed school children spending up to 18 hours a day playing addictive online games.

Those are the same school children who remain repeatedly absent during online classes.

Those are the same children who do not give a damn about social etiquettes (etiquettes like greeting their relatives and neighbours who come for a visit).

Moreover, it is not an urban phenomenon anymore. We are witnessing this kind of online game addiction spreading to the villages, too.

"Kathmandu has invaded our villages! Our innocent villages are becoming like a mini-Kathmandu!"

This was a satirical remark made by one of my colleagues recently. He was possibly referring to the changing mentality of the villagers where they have become zombies: unable to have a meaningful conversation with anyone without getting distracted by their smart phones every few minutes.

Urbanising villages where young teen girls wear stilettos on the way to school, where young boys no longer play dandi-bio, guchha, chungi, bhada-kuti or lukamari. (It is likely the youths nowadays have not even heard of these games.) It is flabbergasting how quickly our youths have become addicted to the virtual world. The new generation that we see today is remarkably insensitive towards their social responsibility.

Casual and carefree attitudes dominate the day.

Banning online games like PUBG is not a viable solution.

India, Pakistan and many other nations tried and failed doing that. Children will always find other distractions.

There are millions of other addictive content available online...pornography, fake news, conspiracy theories, violence, stupidity...and likewise. Online games are blamed again and again for their violent content and addictiveness. Let us not go into the blame game.

Online games could be constructive or destructive. It depends on how much you use it.

Moderate levels of online gaming for occasional recreation is not harmful. It may even be beneficial in lowering the stress caused by this pandemic.

Once the Buddha was asked by one of his disciples: "What is poison?"

The Buddha's reply was very simple and scientific: "Anything which is done or taken beyond what is necessary is poison."

A version of this article appears in the print on July 28 2021, of The Himalayan Times.