Enough with the knee-jerk reactions already. I wasn’t going to comment on this, which I read a few days ago, but after discussing this with a friend of mine, I’m frustrated how quickly this was blamed on video games. If you haven’t read the story, basically, a couple left their four-month old at home (alone) while they went down the street to play some World of Warcraft at a local PC Bang. When they returned (five hours later) their daughter had suffocated. While the news that a small child had died is a horrible thing, blaming this on video games is so far out in left field that it borders on the ridiculous. First of all, you could replace “went to play video games” with “watched TV” or “took a nap” and all of a sudden this just becomes a sad story, possibly a case of SIDS. Instead, the media (and the police) jerk their knees in the direction of video games. What a joke.
Discussing this with other gamers, it becomes evident that they think this is a simply a case of bad parenting, of parental neglect, not video games. But it’s not even that. How do the police know this small child didn’t suffocate five minutes after the couple left the house? They don’t. Even if the couple was at home, how could they have avoided this tragedy? Short of checking on the child every two minutes, this probably could not have been avoided. Instead, we get a quote like this from the police:
Police said, “It’s unfortunate, because the tragedy could have been averted if the couple had just left their daughter with Yu’s mother-in-law, who lived upstairs from them… We booked the pair on criminal charges, judging that when you consider the situation, they were responsible for their daughter’s death.”
No, I don’t think the tragedy could be avoided. But since we need someone to blame, we’ll blame the parents and their evil video games. If I was the manager of the place this couple was playing at, I’d be getting nervous. “If only he hadn’t provided a place to play their game this would have never happened.” And if “Blizzard hadn’t created such a darn addictive game, this little girl might still be alive!” (Excuse me while my head explodes).
So in summary – this is a tragic story. As a father, everytime I hear of an infant passing away, my stomach turns. But I find it too much of a stretch to blame this on parental neglect or video games. This is a just a sad case of misfortune. Unfortunately, in the blame-obsessed society we live in, video games are the easiest target, so they get the lion’s share of blame. Which is just sad.
(On a side note: I always thought prevailing wisdom was to lay a child on its back to sleep until it was old enough to roll over on its stomach. Most four-month olds can’t roll over. So maybe this was just a case of the parents putting their child to sleep on her stomach and that was simply not the best decision.)