When is Online Gaming Child Abuse?
When folks think of child abuse and neglect, they tend to think of the extreme examples that hit the news. Toddlers left in rooms unattended for hours or days, teens locked in closets or physically and sexually abused, children left to fend for themselves. But there’s another face of child neglect we need to take a solid look at.
Just now on my Facebook wall, it says that TWO MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE are playing Farmville. Wow. That’s just one of the hundreds of games that are available online.
Usually when we think of ‘online gaming’ we think more of the games that teenagers play. Games like World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons, along with “console” games such as Play Station III, tend to grab teens attention and worry parents no end. But what about this obsession with online gaming by parents? And what has this gaming obsession done to the ability of parents to give their undivided attention to their teens?
Last week I received an email from a 14 year old girl. Here’s part of what she wrote:
My mom is always on the internet, playing her games. Sometimes I think she cares more about her Farm and her fake farm friends than she does about me. If she’s busy on her game, often dinner will be late or I’ll have to make my own. And she doesn’t even look up at me anymore when I come home from school. I know this might seem a little strange, but do you have any suggestions for how I can get my mom to care more about me than about her computer games?
Have you been caught up in the virtual gaming time-sink? Are you allowing your fun online to rob your child of your undivided attention? Do you look up and smile when your teen enters the room, or do you think it doesn’t really matter?
Now is a great time to re-evaluate your online time and decide what’s most important. If you’ve gotten caught up in online gaming, it might be time to say goodbye to your Farm, or your Bling, or whatever else has become a time and attention sink.
How do you feel about the hundreds of online games aimed at adults? Do you think this new “face” of neglect is a legitimate problem? What would be your advise to the 14 year old girl who wrote to me?