Each day, the number of the days until the first GCSE examination is written at the right hand side of the board – the number of actual days and the number of teaching days. Each day, the teacher urges the Year 11 students to make the most of the time remain, to take every opportunity to go over notes and to check revision guides. Among the female students, there is a good response. Male students seem divided among those who are motivated to seek good examination results and those who seem to use every spare moment to play Coinmaster.
Coinmaster seems the latest addictive online game to capture the attention of schoolgoers. When challenged about their need to constantly engage with the game, students explain that if they leave it unattended, someone might steal their coins. They do not explain why they have such a compulsive need to have imaginary coins in the game that is consuming so much of their time. All phones must be placed in a box as students enter a classroom. When the phones are returned as the students leave the classroom, the first reaction is not to check for messages, but to return to the game.
In one lower school class, a boy set the alarm on hid phone to go off during the lesson. Going to the front he took the phone from the box, ostensibly to switch off the alarm, but slipped the phone into his pocket. When he reached his seat, he was invited to return to the front and place his phone back into the box. Had he not done so, he would undoubtedly have returned to the game.
Coinmaster is a benign and innocent activity compared with many of the activities online, and if it wasn’t Coinmaster to which adolescent males were addicted it would be some similar activity. Electronic games seem to have the capacity to take hold of minds, at least until they are swept aside by the next wave of online diversions. There has always been a gender gap in the process of emotional and psychological maturity, teenage females generally being more mature than their male counterparts; the technological revolution seems to have widened that gap.
In former times, a sixteen year old boy would have wanted to emphasise the gap between he and the twelve year old boys in a school. Electronic games seem to have closed the gap, sixteen year olds content to play the games played by their juniors.
Presumably there are psychological studies that account for the behaviour and will suggest when it will end. In the meantime, unless there is a GCSE offered in playing online games, it can only be detrimental to the prospects of those caught up with it.