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Is Video Gaming like Crack?

Janice Turner recently wrote a rant against video games on the Times Online titled ‘Xbox 360 Is Crack For Kids: It’s an impossible task to police our children’s multimedia addiction’. It’s an interesting, yet misguided read. Articles like this are the reason that people outside the video gaming world have such a negative opinion of games.

She’s a hard working mom and complains about the fact that she can’t be constantly watching everything her children do. She refuses to purchase video games for her children, because games are apparently like crack for kids. As a parent, I respect her decision to keep gaming away from her kids, but it’s irresponsible as a writer for her to portray gaming as something evil when she had no knowledge of it. Keeping an eye on kids has been a parenting problem long before gaming was on the scene. As I recall, there were movies, books and radio programs that weren’t great for kids out long before video games even hit the scene. In addition to complaining about gaming, she also complains about media and technology in general. She explains how it’s nearly impossible for her to regulate “screen time” for her kids.

I find this argument of hers to be a little silly. When I was a kid, I was allowed to play 30 minutes of games a day and watch 30 minutes of television. Of course, they couldn’t regulate the games I played at my friend’s houses. There were no exceptions. If it was sunny outside, that’s where I was. Parents these days simply don’t know how to say “no”. It’s that simple. You can’t always be the “good guy” when it comes to parenting and it’s hard work. No one ever said raising kids was an easy task. After reading the article, it became apparent to me that she was trying to blame her lack of parenting skills on gaming and media in general.

Perhaps the most insane quote from her article is the following one:

Once, such kids would be the playground outcasts, but no longer. Mine are. Because, unlike the TV-hating parents, I refuse to buy them portable gaming consoles, Xboxes, GameCubes, PS2s. These are Satan’s Sudoku, crack cocaine of the brain. Even the crappiest cartoon or lamest soap teaches a child about character, plot, drama, humour, life. Playing videogames, children are mentally imprisoned, wired into their evil creators’ brains. And they play them – beepety-beep – on journeys, over family meals, any minute in which they find themselves unamused.

And their parents never seem to say, hey, this is the bit where you pick up a book. Or game over, kids: get an inner life.

To call video games “Satan’s Sudoku” is just plain silly. I personally believe that as a parent , you should try and allow your kids to be as well-rounded as possible. I feel that if you restrict your kids too much, they are not going to be well-rounded. Their experiences are not going to be equal to their peers when they get older. They may even struggle to fit into society as young adults. She’s obviously never actually looked into most video games. There are many things one can learn from gaming that can have a positive impact on your life. I’m not really sure what to say about this article other than the fact that Janice Turner needs to stick to subjects she knows something about. Video games are not evil. They do not cause violence and can actually be a positive influence on someone’s life when used responsibly. The last time I checked, playing games on the Xbox 360 is nothing like smoking crack.

Gaming is a high that lasts a lifetime and you are far less likely to shank someone for a game than a crack rock. The entire article is just another rant against gaming since it’s the thing to do in journalism and writing these days.

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