from the think-of-the-royal-flushes! dept
Here is a brief list of all the definitive information we have about the effects of video games on children. Violent video games make children more violent. Violent video games do not make children more violent. Video games make children less sympathetic to their fellow humans. Video games make children more sympathetic to their fellow humans. Video games cause severe health problems in children. Video games have health benefits for children. And, above all else, we know that parents in the United States are so certain that video games are a problem for their children that they brilliantly ignore the tools at their disposal to help them act like, you know, parents.
Whoo. Sort of takes your breath away, doesn't it? Well, we aren't done yet, apparently, now that another study supposedly shows that (sigh) video games are turning our precious youth into wannabe Doyle Brunsons and the only remedy is
attentive parents the ever-effective school systems to educate kids about gambling games.
Prof Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit, based at Nottingham Trent University, said large numbers of under-16s were becoming hooked on games often accessed through social media websites. Many sites provide opportunities to play online poker with virtual money or give users a free introductory session to cash-gambling games with no age restrictions.Free versions of poker and gambling sites are turning children into gambling addicts. Got it. How are they doing this, professor?
Speaking to the Times Educational Supplement, he said these games introduced young people to the excitement and rewards of gambling even when they are not playing for real money, adding: “It’s a bit like the old drug-dealing analogy of giving a bit for free and hooking them in.”Ah, it's so simple! If you offer something for free and reward the user, they'll become hopelessly hooked and think they can earn real rewards in real life! Like drug dealers do! And play-money gambling sites! And the way Farmville has spawned a bunch of kids now hopelessly trying to grow plants out of their concrete sidewalks! Or how that free NFL game where you run back kickoffs has somehow magically convinced zillions of kids that they're Devin Hester.
Sorry, not buying it. Kids, by and large, are far more intelligent than we give them credit for. But, hey, it's not like the professor is only picking on poker sites.
Prof Griffiths identified games such as Candy Crush Saga which has been downloaded more than 500m times and gives players the option of paying money to access higher levels. He said that these games had a “moreishness quality, a bit like chocolate”.So...the game being fun and costing something is the problem? Look, I dislike micropayments as much as the next person, but deciding that Candy Crush has caused a need for gambling education in every school in the UK is a bit like saying that because kids read comic books they should have to take a lesson on some of the unfortunate squeeze-effects of wearing superhero tights. It's just a little overboard.
“You say you’ll just have one chunk and you end up having the whole lot,” he said. “So you say, ‘I’ll just play for 15 minutes’, and you end up still there four or five hours later.”
And, I ask, knowing that this will be laughed off by my children-having peers, why is there no mention of parenting anywhere in these recommendations? I played cards with my friends as a child. I played free online poker when I was in high school. All the education I needed to know that I wasn't Phil Helmuth was my father pulling up a picture of the Las Vegas strip and saying, "They didn't build those enormous buildings by letting people win." That, along with some attentive parenting, ought to be enough.