You know how it is: You sit down at your computer to play a little Dungeons & Dragons, and when you look up your kids are starving. "A couple who authorities say were so obsessed with the Internet and video games that they left their babies starving and suffering other health problems have pleaded guilty to child neglect," A.P. reports. Experts are divided on whether the parents, Michael and Iana Straw, deserve as much respect as drunks, junkies, or crackheads who neglect their children:
Last month, experts at an American Medical Association meeting backed away from a proposal to designate video game addiction as a mental disorder, saying it had to be studied further. Some said the issue is like alcoholism, while others said there was no concrete evidence it's a psychological disease.
Patrick Killen, spokesman for Nevada Child Abuse Prevention, said video game addiction's correlation to child abuse is "a new spin on an old problem."
"As we become more technologically advanced, there's more distractions," Killen said. "It's easy for someone to get addicted to something and neglect their children. Whether it's video games or meth, it's a serious issue, and [we] need to become more aware of it."
I'm not sure what counts as "concrete evidence" of "a psychological disease" in the AMA's book (or the APA's book, which is the one that really counts). But I think Killen is right that the addiction processes are essentially similar. He's wrong, though, when he claims "it's easy for someone to get addicted to something and neglect their children." If it's so easy, why do most parents manage to remember to feed their kids, despite the world's myriad distractions? To say someone is an addict does not absolve him of responsibility for his actions (or inactions). People are rightly judged by the habits they cultivate.
[Thanks to Kevin Killough for the tip.]