Andy

“A journey of acceptance and self discovery”

Cynthia_Andy

14-year-old Andy Sng would spend hours gaming on weekdays and weekends at LAN shops, using up his pocket money on new games as his parents were away at work.

Eventually, the excessive gaming took a toll on his academic performance as he found it increasingly dif cult to concentrate in class. Spending most of his time locked up in his room, his relationship with his parents became cold and distant as he was preoccupied with his gaming activities. His parents were left feeling helpless and worried. As his behaviour deteriorated, his school counsellor referred his case to TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW) and encouraged his parents to seek help together with Andy.

When Andy first attended TCW’s counselling session, he was shy and barely made eye contact with his counsellor, Ms Cynthia Khoo. However, he gradually opened up as he continued to attend the Cyber Wellness Enrichment Programme (CWEP) comprising weekly study group and counselling sessions where he met other youths. CWEP helped Andy to discover more about himself and his gaming motivations. He also realised gaming was his way of coping and escaping from reality.

Ms Khoo advised Andy on the importance of diversifying his activities, motivating him to participate in other activities such as basketball and weightlifting. He still games but he has learnt to better manage his time. Andy’s social life improved gradually as he interacted with other youths. All these helped him regain his self-confidence and taught him how to set priorities in life. Andy also became a positive influence to his friends as he encouraged them to place more importance in their studies instead of gaming.

The journey of acceptance and self-discovery has made Andy a happier person. He chats with his parents more often now and enjoys sharing with them about his day’s activities. They are thrilled to see their son gain new aspirations in life and using his time productively. Moving forward, Andy hopes to become a volunteer to help mentor the younger ones – and help them discover their potential and show them that life is more than gaming.

Alex

“Having fun in the outdoors!”

Where he was before…
Alex Chua, aged 18, used to game excessively when he was in secondary school. He would spend close to 10 hours a day gaming, and on several days, he would game through the night. He was not doing well in school and would sometimes doze off during lessons. His grades dipped significantly as he showed no interest in his studies. At home, he would get irritated easily, and would shout back at his father if he was asked to stop gaming. They could not agree on the time that could be spent on gaming. Soon, Alex started keeping to himself most of the time. He stopped going out with friends as his world revolved around the Internet and gaming. Nothing else mattered to him. He remained defiant even as his teachers and parents tried to talk to him about his computer usage.
Turning point…
Due to his deteriorating situation at home and in school, Alex was referred to TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW) by his school counsellor. Initially, Alex was reluctant to be counselled. He remained quiet when participating in TCW’s group holiday programmes. TCW’s counsellor and mentors continued to encourage and counsel him. Through profiling tests and group activities, Alex began to understand more about himself especially his motivations behind his gaming habits and began to ask reflective questions like “What else could I do if I didn’t game?”. He discovered that he is an introvert with a strong interest in music even though he does not play an musical instrument. He only found out after participating in a holiday programme, and was keen to explore the possibility of turning it into a hobby or career. He was also encouraged to take part in fun outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking and trekking. Alex learnt that life is more than gaming. Alex’s father also joined in the counselling sessions where he learnt to manage his expectations towards his son’s gaming interest. He also learnt to negotiate and compromise instead of arguing. TCW counsellor also shared with him about his son’s Profiling Test results to help him better understand and support his child’s interests and motivations. For example, he learned not to take a direct head-on approach in controlling Alex as he has an aggressive and direct personality. Alex also introduced him to a range of alternative activities and to be part of a healthy peer gaming community where he learnt to foster better relational skills and be more open about sharing his thoughts and feelings.
Where he is today…
Gradually, Alex showed significant progress through the counselling sessions. He opened up to people in the centre more and learned to better communicate with his father instead of arguing constantly. More importantly, his gaming hours were reduced as he chose to focus more on his schoolwork. He eventually completed his GCE ‘O’ Levels and is currently enlisting for the army before he continues his studies. Alex has come to recognise the importance of setting his priorities right and pursuing a good education with his interest in mind. He aims to achieve at least a diploma in Audio Engineering.
Jane

“Counselling helped me regain confidence for my studies.”

Where she was before…
Jane (*not her real name) is a 16-year-old girl, studying in a local secondary school. She stays with her grandfather and single mother who works long hours. Jane is very close to her mother and helps to look after her grandfather. She used to attend school regularly and had no disciplinary issues.
Turning point…
Things took a turn when Jane was in Secondary Three. She was placed in a new class and had to make new friends. In school, Jane does not have many close friends. She used to be in basketball team but stopped because her mother thought it was a strain on their finances. Having difficulty coping with the transitions and school work, she started to spend more time on computer games to escape from her problems. Because of the long hours of gaming, Jane has difficulty in waking up for school. Even though her mother would wake her up, she would often go back to sleep. Even when she wakes up, she would often take a bus to a LAN shop instead. This was when Jane started to be absent from school. Initially, she was absent once or twice a month. This escalated to thrice a week after the June school holidays, and eventually Jane stopped going to school for almost 3 weeks. Her mother did not know about this as Jane would get money from her grandfather to go to the LAN shops. Her frequent absence from school alerted her concerned teachers to call her mother. Jane’s mother had difficulty getting her to change as she is busy with work. Frustrated at her daughter’s behavior, she would nag at her. Not wanting to let her mother down, Jane tried to go back to school. But she felt helpless with her countless failed attempts. Nothing seems to interest her anymore except gaming. On weekdays, Jane used to spend her time at the LAN shop from 10 am to 4pm. During the weekends, she would play from 10am to 6pm. Her favourite games were Maple Story and Audition. She enjoyed the company of her friends at the LAN shop and her online friends in ‘game guilds’ or ‘fam’. She felt a sense of belonging as she knows everyone there. She enjoyed chatting, trading virtual items and doing game quests together with her Maple Story guild members.
Where she is today…
Jane was referred to TOUCH Cyber Wellness for counselling by her school. At TOUCH, her counsellor, Waimun, helped her change the negative mindset she had – She didn’t want to face her problems at school and felt that she has let her family and teachers down. Wai Mun encouraged her and taught her to plan and process her daily schedules and goals. TOUCH also had volunteers to help her with her studies and gave her a positive social support. Jane was very willing to change. With help of the TOUCH Cyber Wellness community and her good attitude towards change despite difficulties, Jane got out of her gaming habits in three months. Jane is now studying Media Design at a tertiary institution. She is enjoying her studies now and spends more time going out with her friends in school than playing computer games. “My counsellor, Wai Mun, helped me regain my confidence for my studies. I am more hopeful now for my future. It helped me keep a positive mindset and set goals for life.” – Jane, 16
Si Jin

“I found new hope and meaning in life.”

Where he was before…
Educated in a neighbourhood school, Si Jin performed well in school, but had poor attendance records and lacked the motivation to study. His problems further escalated when he became interested in LAN gaming during his secondary school days. Si Jin’s gaming habit started, which started as a form of leisure, became detrimental as he started to spend most of his time and money at LAN shops playing games. Although quiet and introverted by nature, he eventually resorted to theft to pay for his LAN gaming habit.
Turning point…
He was arrested and sentenced to the Boy’s Home. He was then referred to TOUCH for counselling because of his obsessive gaming habit. Si Jin regretted his actions as he reflected on the vice he committed. During counselling sessions, the counsellor challenged his lack of motivation and destructive thinking process. Si Jin realised that he needs to work hard in life and give his best so as not to disappoint himself, his family and loved ones.
Where he is today…
The counsellor encouraged him to set meaningful goals. In response, Si Jin resolved to work hard and turned from a school drop-out to a trainee at Shatec, working towards acquiring a culinary diploma. Because of his conscious efforts, he was discharged early from the Boy’s Home and is currently attached to a restaurant in a hotel for training.
Kenneth

“I’ve learnt to prioritise what’s important to me because life is more than gaming.”

Where he was before…
A few years ago, 17-year-old Kenneth Soh’s world revolved around computer gaming. Kenneth did not socialise much with his classmates and friends as he would rather spend time with his online or virtual friends. He was also skipping school as often as three to four days a week, and would game late into the night. At the peak of his gaming obsession, Kenneth would game from 12 midnight to 7 in the morning during the Chinese New Year period. Kenneth’s parents were also unable to control his gaming habits as he refused to listen to their advice. To avoid detection, he would even hide under the blanket in his room to play games on his laptop. His school teachers also tried to reach out to him, and finally referred him to TOUCH Cyber Wellness for counselling.
Turning point…
With help from the counsellor and youth mentors from PlanetCRuSH Cyber Wellness Centre, Kenneth soon learnt to understand himself better and more importantly, how to overcome his gaming habits. He was also introduced to community groups at the Centre to engage him in activities such as sports and small group sharing to overcome some of his negative thoughts and feelings. In the process of sharing his problems and feelings, he started to think more about his priorities and future direction in life. Instead of spending long hours on computer gaming, Kenneth soon learnt how to diversify his activities with help from the TOUCH Cyber Wellness team. For example, he would also play basketball with other gamers from the PlanetCRuSH Cyber Wellness Centre.
Where he is today…
Kenneth discovered that having a worthy passion is the key to success. He started working hard at becoming a more focused person and to lead a more balanced life. He now knows the importance of doing the right thing at the right time, and never to give up in life. Kenneth feels happier now because he knows that life is more than just gaming.
Cheng En

There’s more to life than gaming

Where he was before…
Cheng En was first exposed to computer gaming when he was in primary school. He would spend hours playing his favourite computer game, Maple Story, as it gave him a sense of achievement. Soon, Cheng En was losing interest in his studies and hardly had time for family and friends. When he entered secondary school, Cheng En migrated from playing Maple Story to a more competitive strategy game, DOTA (Defence of the Ancient). He would often join his close friends in LAN shops after school, playing for hours before returning home late at night. Soon, Cheng En’s results started to deteriorate. He barely passed his exams.
Turning point…
Cheng En was then introduced to TOUCH Cyber Wellness where he was connected with a youth mentor who helped him understand the importance of drawing a balance between the virtual and real world. With the help of a counsellor, Cheng En also gained a deeper insight into his own motivations and gaming habits. The PlanetCRuSH experience at the PlanetCRuSH Cyber Wellness Centre at Bukit Merah also provided a healthy gaming environment for Cheng En. There, he befriended other youths who engaged in a variety of activities such as basketball, movie, outings and study sessions – other than gaming. It was then that he realised the futility of spending all his free time gaming. The changes were visible. Soon, his school work began to improve as he became more responsible. He would finish his homework first before playing computer games. Cheng En was also able to enjoy a closer relationship with his mother. He would inform her about his whereabouts each time he was out late.
Where he is today…
Cheng En is now a volunteer with TOUCH Cyber Wellness where he befriends and mentors youths under the Cyber Wellness Enrichment Programme. The activities include involving youths in fun activities, such as teaching them the basics of fishing and giving a live hands-on demonstration on how to catch fishes. With help from TOUCH Cyber Wellness, Cheng En’s life has been transformed – from a life that was bound to computer gaming to one which is filled with meaning and purpose.
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