I was reading an article today about video game addiction and I stumbled across some information that took my breath away. I thought I would share it here.
In 2005 a Korean male died of cardiac arrest after a 50 hour marathon of playing Starcraft.
In 2006 there was a male from Philadelphia that killed his daughter that was 17 months old because she broke his XBox console.
In 2007 a male from Ohio shot and killed his parents when they took away his Halo 3 game.
In 2009 a Korean couple spent all of their time creating a virtual world on Prius and taking care of their new “virtual baby” that they ended up letting their real baby starve to death!
In 2010 an American woman shook her baby to death when his crying kept interrupting her FarmVille game.
And as I have already reported there was an American male that died this year from a video game marathon.
You know what I found interesting about this article? The addicts are not all kids, they are not all male, and the games are not all the same. This means a few things to me as a mother and a wife. First of all, you can be addicted to any video game, whether it is FarmVille or Halo 3…..all video games can be addictive. Secondly, I realized that the addictive behavior can have MANY different outcomes, from letting your own child starve to death, to killing someone over it, to killing yourself over it. And finally you can become addicted at any age. These things are really making me realize more than ever that I need to make some serious decisions early on about my child’s media usage and I also need to know as much as I possibly can before I ever let them play another video game, PERIOD!
I was walking through a store with my children the other day and we were talking about gifts for my daughter’s 7th birthday. I told her that we would walk through the toy aisle and she could tell me what she wants and I would come back later and buy something.
She couldn’t look beyond the displays that they have set up with the electronic Leapster toys. They have handheld laptops and handheld video games, as well as consoles to plug into your television. Then you walk into the electronic section and they have the nintendo ds, ipods, games galore, dvds and more than any child could resist. It is just such a shame that these “electronic” toys are such a big part of these stores, because even if you have the best intentions in mind, it is hard to walk past these aisles and deny your child what he/she wants.
These is why I am wondering if we, as parents, have any chance to keep our children protected from the media giant of today? We are sold on these “educational” toys that are disguised video games to get your child hooked. But more than getting your child hooked, it gets the parent hooked. It is “helping” us make decisions that we will regret later. For example, you are a mother of a four year old and he or she gets a leapster for their birthday. You are convinced this is a good thing because it will teach them the alphabet and counting among other really great things. However, your child isn’t going to be playing the leapster at ten. This is going to be considered a “baby” toy by that time, and now you are used to this time at home when you are cooking dinner and they can play their game, or riding in the car, or waiting at a doctor’s office without the impatient and tired child. But when they want something bigger, better, newer, more advanced, and then you have to make real decisions about what they play, how long they play, in what capacity do they play. These are all decisions that we, as parents, made long before they became a pre-teen playing Halo for hours on end!
I read an article that was featured on Yahoo that had the over-view of social networking, teen’s reactions to social networking and an “experts” advice on your child and social networking.
The “expert” that they were using was a professor and his advice just hit me as the most insane advice I have ever heard, as an adult and as a parent. He said that children should be eating 3-4 meals a week as a family, that seems like a small number, but I was still in agreement with him, until he came to the “rules” of the family dinner. He stated that you should give your child a five minute warning to check any and all devices before dinner, and then expect them to sit for 45 minutes without any devices. HOWEVER, he said that you should give your child a one minute “message-check” break every 15 minutes where they can check their messages.
I am sorry, but that is crazy. As a parent, I should be allowed to expect my child to sit for a family dinner, tech-free without breaks for 45 minutes. Who is the parent and who is the child? I feel like parents are stripped of all their leverage and power by these “experts” who say that we need to give breaks and warnings to 15 year olds. These are the same tricks that we use as preschool teachers to transition them from free play to circle time, shouldn’t we be allowed to expect more out of our teenagers?!
I would like to see an expert come out and say, “You know what? You are the parent and they are the child and if you want to have a family moment and eat dinner together without technical gadgets, then set those rules and have consequences that are equal to the punishment picked out. Because you are the adult and they are the child and they wouldn’t have those devices unless you allowed your children to own them.”
But these experts won’t say those things, instead they give you advice on how to coddle your child and baby-step through the parenting process. I just wish that as parents we would have more support than our children do!
My husband and I have been trying to find a television show that airs in the evening that our daughter might be able to watch with us, however, we still have yet to find one. The shows that are airing in the prime time spots are not really appropriate for our daughter. The talent shows have judges that make innapropriate comments (musical orgasms (Sing Off), and acts that can use suggestive dancing with revealing clothing, and comedians that have routines that I would not want my daughter witnessing (America’s Got Talent). The sitcoms are filled with homosexual men kissing and hugging one another (Modern Family), as well as teenage kids getting eachother pregnant (Glee). I am wondering if we are destined to watch game shows and American Idol with our daughter, but even those aren’t totally free of innapropriate comments (Wipeout and the Big Balls).
My husband and I are also frustrated that every show we get into is cancelled halfway through the season. So I looked back on shows of the past, and the family-friendly shows lasted years, sometimes decades. For example the following shows aired for a minimum of five years; Touched By An Angel (10 yrs), Cosby Show (9 yrs), 7th Heaven (12 yrs), Little House on the Prairie (9 yrs), Waltons (10 yrs), Murder She Wrote (12 yrs), Life Goes On (5 yrs), Matlock (10 yrs), Family Ties (8 yrs), Full House (9 yrs), Home Improvement (9 yrs), Wonder Years (6 yrs), Highway To Heaven (6 yrs) and the list goes on.
If this is true that these family friendly shows are very successful, have a longer shelf life than most shows that are premiering today, then why are we not premiering one this fall? I can’t seem to find a show that is worth sitting down as a family and watching together.
I remember watching shows like Family Ties and The Cosby Show and they talked about real issues, and things that were important to families, but never crossed the line of uncomfortable or innapropriate. I don’t ever remember feeling uncomfortable watching the Cosby Show with my parents when I was little. I just don’t understand why these shows aren’t available today?
I was reading an article about cartoons and the problems that occur with television ratings. It is shocking that it isn’t just about the content in the cartoons but that what they are marketing and trying to sell to the kids during commercials. The article was contained on parentstv.org , titled Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter. It talked about the Nielsen Data, and how it states that TV-PG shows and cartoons are shown to not only be over-loaded with profanity, but also contain very adult storylines from rape, cocaine, STD’s and crystal meth. They also said that networks are failing to warn parents what are in these shows, and specifically Cartoon Network failed to warn parents 100% of the time.
The article also talked about what the advertisements were during these TV-PG shows. They were definitely NOT advertising pillow pets, and toothbrushes, quite the contrary, they were advertising rated R movies, TV-MA shows, and DVD’s . It is outrageous to think that we aren’t trying to persuade these already impressionable little kids into wanting to buy things that are completely innappropriate! Just to warn other parents, once again, I think we might be alone in this world, and that no one is going to help us, so we must help each other!
I have been riding in the car more often lately because of summer lessons and camps. I have been completely disgusted by the content of the radio personalities. I can’t count the amount of times that I have had to flip the station because of their choice of conversation. It has gotten ridiculous what these people will talk about between masturbation, orgasms, sexual partners, cheating spouses, hangovers, drug use, among other innapropriate subjects. The main concern that I have is that it isn’t just a passing comment, but an actual morning topic that would last the hour. I have not found a radio station, besides Radio Disney or certain Christian Stations, that I can listen to without editing. I am wanting to listen to current music, but the topics of conversation are completely vulgur and make my children and I very uncomfortable. I wonder when we, as a society, got to a point where this was acceptable to talk about these things without thought of the audience that is listening.
I know that I keep talking about children and how media usage effects them. But I not only know this to be true from being a preschool teacher and a parent of two, but I believe in my heart that we need to help one another navigate through this media driven world.
I sometimes wonder why children have such a desire to have a cell phone, to text their friends, or play video games, watch violent movies, or even inappropriate television. But then I evaluate my own media usage and that of my friends and family. Children want to be adults at such a young age. Before there were cell phones and computers, the children wanted to drive as eary as possible, have a family and career of their own, and do things that made them feel grown up and adult. So, it would only figure that they would want to do everything that we, as adults, would do, including our media habits.
I am trying to model the media usage behavior that I would want them to display when they are older. I don’t text and drive, and try not to talk on the phone at all while driving. I do not text during meals, or any time that I am interacting with my children. I set aside time to use the computer, watch television, text and email while they are busy doing something else. I don’t want them to feel as though my media usage is more important than the time I get to spend with them. We do not have the television running while they are playing, they have set aside times to watch it, and so do I. I do not have the television running while I am doing other things as well. I shut down all media devices while they are not in use, so that there are specific times to use these, and that does not mean all day long. We cannot expect our children to live by a different standard than the one that we are setting for them.
My last blog touched base on a topic that I feel very strongly about…..bringing children into an inappropriate movie. I understand that many people feel as though it is the parent’s responsiblity in regards to what they want their children to watch. However, what about those parents that cannot make that decision due to drugs, alcohol, ignorance or in some cases just plain immaturity. I was talking to my sister in law the other day who said that she was watching a movie recently and it was a VERY severe, rated “R” movie and sitting next to her was a child under the age of 5. She was terribly uncomfortable watching the content of the movie with the child right next to her. The parents were oblivious to the damage they were causing to their child. It is not only harmful to the child, but it could also cause them nightmeres and/or long-term issues. I am concerned that as a society we are intent on letting children suffer based on rights and responsibilities, instead of protecting these children against things that are so obviously harmful to them.
I was just looking at the movie reviews for this weekend and saw the review for The Change-Up and was HORRIFIED to read what was in this movie, and yet it was only rated R. I started doing a little research and found that they have essentially gotten rid of the NC-17 movie rating, but after reading some of these reviews on MovieReports.org it seems that it still needs to be used for current movies like Hangover 2. The argument that I have about the movie ratings system is that movies like The King’s Speech was rated R for using the “F” word too many times, but then Hangover 2 was rated “R” for numerous amounts of innappropriate scenes. I think that there needs to be a review of how these movies are rated. If a movie should be deemed so innappropriate that it needs an NC-17 rating on it, than any child that is under the age of 17 cannot see this movie, regardless of parent involvement. This not only protects the parent, but also protects the child. I am confused why this rating was ever discontinued. If I had to guess I would say that the rating is still there, but whatever the equation is that makes this rating applicable, the movie producers are makign sure that they do whatever they can to stay JUST under that rating. I would like to see a total reconstruction of the rating system itself, and would like to see the criteria for each rating changed.
I was reading more about the death surrounding the gamer, Chris Staniforth, who died of a blod clot. Above all else, this is very sad. With that said, it’s frustrating because it’s totally preventable. Medical professionals are now coming out and saying that those individuals who play these games need to take regular breaks to move around and exercise their bodies.
We know this issue extends far beyond just an extreme case like this. Excessive gaming, especially violent games, has shown major physiological changes on the brain, as well as a host of other public health issues.
Our hope is that a terrible case like this, sheds more light on an important, yet largely unknown issues associated with video game play. Clearly, the video game industry doesn’t aim for outcomes like this. But as parents, teachers, physicians, and other citizens engaged in society, we should hold every industry to similar scrutiny.
While it’s easy to throw stones at things that have a more direct correlation to adverse outcomes, like alcohol or tabacco, stories like this raise sometimes more challenging questions. Should there be regulations or warnings? Would that even have impact on those gamers that seem to show signs of addiction? Does the government have any role in regulation of these games, or, as the Supreme Court ruled, is this artistic expression.
What’s clear is that the days of Pong and Mario Brothers are long behind us. We would be interested to hear your thoughts on how you process through these issues when Constitutional rights run into public health and safety issues.