Video games are an interesting and zesty enterprise. They can provide hours of fun when you feel bored or even help you learn your multiples. But they can also make time slip by unnoticed and blot out the rest of the world from your senses. This behavioral pattern can lead to a very bad habit which in turn can lead to addictive tendencies and dependencies. This last spring in Russia a story broke which shined a light on just how severe this behavior can become in young persons.
A 14 year old boy, who had been in trouble with his father, had his PC keyboard taken away as a punishment so that he could no longer play games. That evening, after his father went to sleep around 1 a.m., the boy took a sledge hammer and struck his father in the skull no less than twice while his mother looked on in horror. His mother, terrified of what he might do, gave in to his demand for his keyboard. The boy then played video games for hours while his father lied dead in the room with his mother. The mother called police after the boy fell asleep.
What is most striking in this story is the detachment the boy showed toward his family. They were merely obstacles in the way of his connection to his personal world of gaming. His connection with the world of gaming was stronger than the ties between father and son which I find astounding. At some point in this young man’s development he severed his relational growth with his parents and was bound to an imaginary world and a set of highly addictive behaviors. Atkin and Lin express this situation well in their Communication Technology and Social Change text reflecting,
“…when families adopt yet another solitary medium into their home, time spent with the computer takes away from time spent with other family members. Therefore, computer use can have a negative impact on social interaction in the family, but may increase children’s feelings of belongingness with a peer group that is defined by media” (Atkin, Lin 69).
What is suggested here is, although new media may help you connect to a virtual group or identity, it may very well disconnect you from the actual group or identity you physically exist within.
Simply, we cannot expect our children to be rational, thoughtful, self aware, or well balanced in their behaviors or beliefs if we allow any source other than our direct involvement with them to shape the bulk of their development. Hobbies are wonderful things and well monitored time wasters can give parents some much needed quiet time. Of course, a sledgehammer can give you an eternity of quiet time. Family is the most important group you can belong to. While family is far more than blood, one should never be willing to shed it for a novelty. Technology is meant to connect us to our world. When our reality becomes virtual, we have done the opposite. If we continue to raise our children to abandon the reality ship we should not be surprised when that ship crashes and sinks.