I just read an article that makes me angry. The amount of mis-information and fear mongering is just amazing. The article starts out
We have an important warning for parents. Today marks the three-month anniversary of the launch of the Nintendo DS Wireless Connection. But Action News has learned this popular gaming system could put kids in harm’s way.
Huh? Right away, the red flags are going up. I assume they’re going to talk about the WiFi Connection. Sure, there is always the possibility of gaming with unsavoury people online, but Nintendo’s friend code system does a decent job of filtering those type of people out. So far, there are three games that use the Wireless connection (Tony Hawk, Mario Kart, and Animal Crossing) so right off the bat we’ve got some poor research being done:
It has built-in wireless capability. That allows kids to battle fellow Nintendo DS players across the room or across the world.
“They can play somebody they’ve never met.”
While this is technically true, my guess is that most kids aren’t playing with people they haven’t met over the WFC. I’m guessing most of these kids are playing with real life friends. (Let’s not forget that connecting to the WFC isn’t exactly simple. I’d say most kids under the age of 14 would struggle to get on without parental help). So what exactly is endangering the children? The super-horrible Picto-Chat!
Theresa’s 11-year-old daughter, Emily likes to doodle so she’s using the Nintendo DS Pictochat feature. Pictochat puts you right into a chatroom and let you send messages wirelessly – and on this day we are in one of Philadelphia’s many Wi-Fi hotspots.
Theresa Keel/Center City: “This screen name pops up and asks her what her name is and how old she is, and she answers.”
Emily Keel/Center City: “And I just felt a little scared and confused.”
This has happened to the Keel’s once before. But this time the screen name is so offensive, we can’t even show it to you.
“It frightened me. It really did.”
Wait one minute! Pictochat is not WiFi-enabled. At all. In fact, in order to chat with someone, you’d have to be in close proximity to the other DS your chatting with (about 60 feet). Unfortunately, this parent is so clueless that they have no idea what the technology in their child’s hands is capable of. All the mother has to do is tell her child to turn of the DS. If she was worried that they might be in danger, they could alert mall security and have them look for the scary person with the offensive screen name. But turning off the DS instantly severs any connection to the bad person. That’s all it takes. No one is “in harm’s way.” But of course the reporter couldn’t be bothered with the facts.
This is simply a case of not doing due dilegence with your research before you run a story. Sowing seeds of fear accomplish very little.
Even when we’re thinking of the children.