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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Video Games Cause Lung Cancer

Well, no, but New Scientist is running with this story about how video games are just as bad a cigarettes:

Research shows that exposure can increase obesity, tobacco and alcohol use, risky sexual behaviours, violence and social isolation, say Dimitri Christakis and Frederick Zimmerman, from the University of Washington in Seattle, in a controversial editorial. The data linking violent media to aggression, for instance, are “just as strong” as those linking smoking and lung cancer, says Christakis.

US children over eight years old spend more time watching TV and playing videos than any other activity except sleeping. More than a third of those under six have TVs in their bedrooms. And things are only set to get worse, as every child with a cellphone will soon to be toting a TV in his pocket, says Christakis.

This is clearly a bit of a straw man argument. Kids aren't getting out and exercising and instead eat fast food and drink cola. Of course, it's not their diet or their parents to blame ... it's the idiot box which ensares them with it's mind altering powers. Parents, naturally, are unable to control their kids against the awesome mental powers of a PlayStation.

That violent media is linked to violent behavior, once again, is a lesson of semantics. When researchers say things like "aggression", they mean things like "will hit a bar more frequently". Or in this case, "assumed people thought they were cheating." Of course, politicians and nutcase lawyers will paraphrase this as "more likely to rob a liqour store" or "shoot a police officer".

Of course, obesity is a major health issue. It's one of the top health issues for Americans today, young or old. Shifting blame, however, will not reduce calories. If you can't figure out how to get your kid outside to play every now and then - maybe you shouldn't have kids. Seriously. "My child is fat because he watches too much television" should be a slappable offense in our society. Your kid is fat because that's how you've raised the thing. If you can't figure out that sitting on the couch ... doing anything aside from aerobics ... is unlikely to burn calories, you need to go back to bio class.

Next, they'll be complaining that books are hypnotic and keep kids from power walking.

Another thought... I just remembered that when I was a kid, Lazer Tag was the rage for a while. Course, there was some chattering about how having kids running around with toy guns would turn them violent. Just can't win, I guess. These people won't be happy until all kids are doing nothing but playing badminton.

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