Investigative journalism BBC One programme ‘Panorama’ broadcast an interesting programme last night about video game addiction. It was entitled: ‘Addicted to Games?‘ and this was the blurb:
As pester power kicks in and the computer games’ industry launches its latest products on to the Christmas market, Panorama hears from youngsters who’ve dropped out of school and university to play games for anything up to 21 hours a day. They describe their obsessive gaming as an addiction. Reporter Raphael Rowe, meets leading experts calling for more independent research into this controversial subject, and reveals the hidden psychological devices in games that are designed to keep us coming back for more.
Now I watched most of it. I say “most” because I gave it the same level of in depth attention that the creators put in to their “investigative journalism”. I listened to the majority of it while catching up on some computer stuff and glanced up every now and then to see what was going on.
For those who missed it here is the programme’s message in a nutshell:
– World of Warcraft and Call of Duty will take over your life and destroy you from within
For everyone else here’s what it was really about:
– Reporter (not journalist?) Raphael Rowe bleats about wanting to protect his children from the dangers of video games, and also share his concerns with other parents. Okay, fair enough – the children are our future and other cliches. I’ve got two so I know the constant pressure, concerns and self doubt you get over just about every decision that you make when trying to ‘do the right thing’.
But here’s the thing, our Raphael here is about my age, but I can only guess that he’s either a member of some remote Amazonian tribe that moved to the UK last Tuesday, or is Amish because I’m fairly confident that most 30-odd year olds are aware of gaming.
I’m also fairly sure that he, and the rest of the Panorama team are able to read. What’s that funny number and description on the game box for? 18? Is that months? Oh, Little Johnny is ten years old so Call of Duty must be fine for him. While you’re at it Raphael, get him some ciggies, a bottle of Scotch and a tattoo – they’ve all got those funny ’18’ stickers on them too!
Here’s how I deal with age restricted products with my kids:
if kid is < [age restriction] then DO_NOT_BUY
Sure I get the “…but whyyyyyy?????” and the answer is simple: because it’s not appropriate. Oh, look at that ‘pester power’ nullified by effective and consistent parenting. Problem solved.
So now that little problem has been resolved let’s look at the shocking tales of woe about childrens lives being totally absorbed by gaming:
There’s some adults that dropped out of University because they spent all their time playing video games. There’s a kid in his late teens who needs a bloody good hiding for being such a stroppy little bastard. Some guy who’s addicted to World of Warcraft and lastly there’s the Korean couple who allowed their own baby to starve to death while they took turns to look after a virtual child.
Hang on a minute….. I thought we were looking at protecting our children. Not our young, and not so young adults….. and some Koreans with low IQs (which is obviously an issue for Korean Social Services and not Panorama). Oh, my mistake – it’s just yet another episode of scaremongering and sucking in the hard of thinking. Panorama used to have some integrity, it’s programmes changed policy and raised awareness of issues. But now, as I said to SuffyWuffy on Twitter earlier, it’s nothing more than sensationalist trash.
When it comes down to it, the majority of the people featured in the programme were ADULTS. Physically and legally. I think even the stroppy teen was actually over 18, but why let something like that get in the way of a good story? Those of you with kids know that there is only so much guidance and discipline you can give your kids. There comes a point when it’s no longer your decision whether or not to allow them to make their own mistakes because they’re going to make them regardless of what you say. That’s when your job as parent becomes that of support worker rather than police man/woman/person. That’s the reality of life, your kids are going to grow up and they’re going to make some shocking mistakes along the way.
Personally, if my kids were to become addicted to something I’d rather it be gaming than crack or gambling.
I’m waiting for Jeremy Vine to introduce the episode where they find a WWII Bomber on the Moon (anyone remember that headline? (probably UK only)).
Peas and loaves.
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