Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Duff: With video game addiction, prevention has to begin in the home

Duff: With video game addiction, prevention has to begin in the home

Last week I tried to prove that video games could be good for you. This week I have to talk about the other side.

For every 100 kids playing video games, 15 of them could be addicted. This number comes from a report submitted to the American Medical Association. On Wednesday, the AMA decided that although overuse of video games can be a problem for children and adults, they’re not ready to call it a disease.

It’s the classic problem faced by ethicists in the modern age. Is it moral or medical? Is video game addiction caused by brain chemistry or weakness of character?

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I’m not qualified to answer that question, but you don’t need a degree in neurochemistry to deal with the problem of addicted kids. Parents have to exert control over their kids’ computer use, and game manufacturers are willing to help.

World of Warcraft comes with parental controls that allow you to determine exactly when your child can play the game. If the last time you saw the Warcraft account screen was the first time you put your credit card in, please go to www.worldofwarcraft.com and look again. Look for “Parental Controls” on the right hand side of the main page under “Quick Links.” The parental control page is worth a visit, if only to see the cute cartoon.

Of course, no technological solution can substitute for an active, concerned parent, but establishing boundaries can make the battle easier, and help your WoW-crazed child get some sleep.

Wives may even want to try this trick on their husbands, but please don’t blame me for the results. As a recovering WoW addict myself, I’ve often wished for an external authority that would shut the game off and make me go to sleep. Unfortunately, being an adult means having the power to sabotage yourself, and having no one else to blame when things go wrong.

It’s easy to blame manufacturers when kids get wrapped up in these things, but I think game addiction is more a symptom than a cause. The real problem is the army of latchkey kids, stuck with computers as their baby sitters and primary source of social interaction.

Real life is harder than virtual life, but it’s also more rewarding. Show your kids the richness of real life, and the games won’t seem so tempting anymore.

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Written by Michael B. Duff

June 29, 2007 at 14:58

Posted in Columns, Games, Warcraft

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