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Hard-core adult gamers: Internet addiction could cost you your kids


Internet addiction in ChinaOne of the true signs of addiction is when a person experiences negative consequences as a result of something, whatever it may be - alcohol, drugs, sex, and yes - even the Internet. With alcohol and drugs, a few common consequences are DUIs, jail time, and the loss of a job and/or relationship. A natural consequence for sex addicts is catching STDs. And recently in the news, hopefully hard-core adult gamers are given a wake up call, because Internet addiction could cost you your children. See the news story: "Nev. couple blame Internet for child neglect." (USA Today | AP)

Here are some of the disturbing details:

The children of Michael and Iana Straw, a boy age 22 months and a girl age 11 months, were severely malnourished and near death last month when doctors saw them after social workers took them to a hospital, authorities said. Both children are doing well and gaining weight in foster care.

Police said hospital staff had to shave the head of the girl because her hair was matted with cat urine. The 10-pound girl also had a mouth infection, dry skin and severe dehydration. Her brother had to be treated for starvation and a genital infection. His lack of muscle development caused him difficulty in walking, investigators said.

Prosecutor Kelli Ann Viloria claims, "They had food; they just chose not to give it to their kids because they were too busy playing video games."

Viloria said the Reno couple was too distracted by online video games, mainly the fantasy role-playing "Dungeons & Dragons" series, to give their children proper care.

Michael Straw, 25, and Iana Straw, 23, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts each of child neglect. Each faces a maximum 12-year prison sentence.

I've brought up the issue of Internet addiction on numerous other occasions, but when innocent children are harmed as a result, it brings the phenomena into a completely different light. Do you think Internet addiction should be given the same status as other addictions? Should people be allowed to plea Internet addiction, just as they do for temporary insanity, and receive a pardon for their transgressions?

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

31 comments
AGN-Godfather
AGN-Godfather

Funny this caught my eye because of a name of mine "adult gamers" I have a web site for adults to have fun playing the games we like without kids. The name of my web site is >>> Adult-Gamerz.net. We play War games only and we do not have porn or any x rated content. My web site is still locked down to the general public until you have registered and your email confirmed, just means our forums are locked to visitors. We are a small group few in their 20's and 30's but mainly 40's and up. One thing we do not have is any "addictive gamers" for most of us its a welcome time away from all the troubles and worries of life, but no one there has any signs of mental illness. We are there to have fun and laugh and chat live on a program we have called ventrilo, so as we play these war games we are working as a team, chatting live and having a blast and all without the troubles of teens, kids or the mental cases. We are a bit selective with whom we let into our web site and on our many game servers. The internet is a tool or gateway for everyone including those who mean harm to others, as I stated we stay clear of the types of people who will cause problems. Gaming is a way to relax and unwind without the need for drugs / alcohol . I invite any of you that would say gamers are bad in anyway to come visit us, register join in a game and you'll see you will have fun and you will not meant any addited gamers on this site. Our forums are always with many topics and also fun to join in on, again we are all about gaming and friendship. AGN-Godfather >>>> Adult-Gamerz.net We play

btljooz
btljooz

This article would be a [b]non-issue[/b] being mostly ignored by the [i]meedeeeeuuuh[/i] [b]IF[/b] the internet were [b][u]not[/u][/b] involved. Considering the circumstances [b]LOOSELY[/b] described by this article the said neglect would have happened [b]ANYWAY!!![/b] The [b][u]EXCUSE[/u][/b] given would simply be [b]different[/b]. But these lazy-@zzed ...dare I call them [i]parents[/i]?... [u]choose[/u] to use the internet as their EXCUSE! Ok, they were playing [i]games[/i]. Those games could just as easily been Board Games, Nintendo, X-box or Wii Games. It's not the games that are at fault. It's the [b][u]DELIBERATE STUPIDITY[/u][/b] of those two [i]people[/i] who had absolutely [b][u]NO[/u][/b] [i]business[/i] BREEDING in the [b]FIRST[/b] place!!!!! It's simply heinous that they treated their poor infants that way using [b][u]ANY[/u][/b] EXCUSE they could come up with to try to get out of suffering themselves due to the suffering that they put those kids through! These two individuals should lose the children permenantly and they [b]BOTH[/b] should be [b][u]STERILIZED[/u][/b] so they'll not ever have another opportunity for a repeat of their [b][u]IR[/b]responsibility[/u] to humanity in general. Period. *Edited so I could put my OWN title on MY post since TR has seen fit to take that feature away.

jdclyde
jdclyde

it is time to dump some chlorine in the gene pool.

Jerry M. Gartner
Jerry M. Gartner

Things like porn, alcohol, gaming, or ANYTHING, for that matter are not addictions unless they trigger specific areas of the brain related to compulsive and addictive behaviors. American society (I am an American) tends to give people an out for poor behavior though. Addiction or not, there is no excuse for neglecting your kids or beating your wife. The people that do these kinds of things will not make real changes while they have an excuse like "I was drunk", or "I am addicted to XYZ". We are all responsible for what we do. No excuses unless you factor in physiologically based mental illness. And now for a bit of shameless self promotion: http://www.gartnerwebdev.com http://rackIT.gartnerwebdev.com

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

If my blood sugar goes out of whack, I become an ogre. It is my responsibility to control my sugar and my temper. It is not, and should not be, a defense if I let my blood sugar go haywire and attack someone. If you have a problem, ANY kind of problem, it is incumbant upon you to get the help you need.

DadsPad
DadsPad

You are very correct that problems you are aware of can be controlled. Internet addiction requires you be awake and thinking. They did Dungeons and Dragons gaming. He was out of work, she worked, but inherited $50K bought large screen tv and computer equipment. They kids were 22 months and 11 months, so they had them very close together and the oldest was almost 2 years old. They (parents) had to eat, go to bathroom, dress and go to work, etc. A baby lets you know if it needs attention. This is more neglect for another reason. It could be drugs, alcohol, mental problems, cruelty and so on. Either this was intentional neglect (murder by neglect) or something else caused them to focus mentally somewhere else. Unfortunately there are too many cases of child neglect and if it is determined there were no extenuating factors other than internet gaming addiction, then this is much closer to throwing a child in the dumpster, except they listened to them cry for over a year, almost a 2 years in one case. Sorry, few things upset me like child abuse, but I do like to see things investigated, not just jumping to conclusions. I doubt they will ever get the children back, too bad sterilization is not legal here!

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

One of them is out of work, so what do they do with a $50k windfall? Buy a big-screen, computers, and other toys. I think that pretty clearly demonstrates what their priorities are all about. Sorry folks; I'm afraid that this is another example of screwed-up emotional children having children. A tragedy for the babies involved.

TechExec2
TechExec2

. Child neglect is child neglect no matter if it is caused by alcohol, drugs, "Internet addiction", carelessness, or stupidity. Nobody should get a pass when they are found guilty of child neglect, and they don't. Neglectful parents don't immediately get their children back after attending the Betty Ford Clinic. But, on a case-by-case basis, they can if they prove to social workers they are fit parents. I think the same kind of process should apply for "Internet addiction". Having a child is such an incredibly wonderful thing. It is always pathetically sad to watch someone throw it all away. And, of course, the children are the little innocent victims in all of this.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Why does there have to be 'something wrong' with people who are simply acting selfishly? I think we are WAY too quick to decide that if someone does something appalling,that there must be something wrong with said person. How about saying that it's SAS (simple, a-holes syndrome)?

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

They got themselves to this point. No one put the "joystick" in their hands. Should they be helped? Yes. Should they go unpunished? No. EMD

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

I've brought up the issue of Internet addiction on numerous other occasions, but when innocent children are harmed as a result, it brings the phenomena into a completely different light. Do you think Internet addiction should be given the same status as other addictions? Should people be allowed to plea Internet addiction, just as they do for temporary insanity, and receive a pardon for their transgressions?

jimmeq
jimmeq

I'd say it becomes more habitual. I know one guy who spent too much time on WoWC, and with help from friends finally quit the game. It is probably better than spending 6 hours in front of the TV. A person's mind is more active game playing. In a sense anything came become an addiction for people with that personality trait. At this point, however I don't think it should be used in legal issues especially in the work place.

priyankajhamnani
priyankajhamnani

See the heights of addiction to internet amongst children also.Yes its like all other addictions that can go to any extent.Amongst children it would affect even higher...see how: Extent of addiction to internet

Larry the Security Guy
Larry the Security Guy

No, not in my opinion. One who comits a crime should pay his debt to society and/or the victims and then move on. If he wants forgiveness, perhaps he needs to visit with his Higher Power.

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

Addiction is an interesting critter. It can really make a mess of people. There are a lot of reason for it, and virtually everyone is at risk for one sort of addiction or another. As for a pardon... well I guess that depends a bit on what you mean by pardon. Certainly their kids need to be removed, at least temporarily - until they can demonstrate recovery - if not permanently. I am not generally in favor of extended prison/jail time for the first offense. I don't think that is that best way to invest my tax dollars to help them. But a very structured and thorough recovery program should certainly be mandatory.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

No child deserves to be saddled with an addict.

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

unless the parents can demonstrate dramatic improvement/recovery, the kid(s) need a new home, where they will get a fair shot at a decent life.

Junx
Junx

As a self confessed internet addict and hardcore gamer, I have to say ?Internet addiction? as an excuse for child neglect just doesn?t add up. I have two children and neither is neglected. Both are fit and healthy and well looked after, despite both their parents going to out to work all week. Child neglect comes about from not wanting to do the parenting, and using any other vice as an excuse to live this way. If this couple didn?t have the Internet the children may well not be neglected, but I don?t think so. I think a different forum elsewhere would be discussing the couple who neglected there children to play bingo, TV quiz channels, drink alcohol etc. Too many time people look for out side influences to blame for their short comings rather than looking to themselves. ?Internet Addiction?, yes it does exist. Child neglect through Internet addiction? I don?t think so.

nhahajn
nhahajn

I can't beleive you would even suggest letting them plea, I say give them Life and take away the kids. This just proves some people shouldn't be able to procreate. Of course I don't think any addiction should be an excuse, for the simple fact that an addiction doesn't have to happen, just don't take that first drink or hit. And by the way I do have the occasional drink, I just don't let it affect my job and family.

tomhirtler
tomhirtler

How does the cost of locking otherwise harmless people up help society? By all means take away the children and the pets; but keep the jail space for people who are actually a danger to society.

tomhirtler
tomhirtler

I don't have much of a problem with the guy doing 110 mph down the middle of a deserted freeway in the middle of the night. He is a danger only to himself. On the other hand the person who almost hit me this morning doing 90 weaving in and out of traffic is a danger to others. But I wasn't thinking about speeders. Neglect is bad, it shows no empathy; but it is passive. There are a lot of people out there who do more than just ignore kids and since we aren't allowed to shot them (even in Texas) I would rather reserve the limited jail space for them, or rapists, or murderers, or....

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Anyone who would be so callous as to neglect their own children is lacking even the most basic empathy and is therefore a danger to society and SHOULD be locked up... for good IMO

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...started to become ubergeeks too and they started mating with the ubergeek guys when the Internet finally made it possible for them to find each other. In a prior age, this world was mainly the domain of terminally adolecent guys who never made it out of their parent's basement, so the issue or possibility of making babies never came up. But seriously: These kids (I hesitate to call them "adults" just because they were able to make babies) are seriously ill. Responsible? Absolutely. But something's got to be wrong when you let your own children wither while you waste your time playing games on the computer. It's a shame that there was no one in their lives to slap them around to tell them to grow up.

Don Ticulate
Don Ticulate

OK, it happened but to be that addicted to a computer game as to neglect ones own children, that is a disturbing situation indeed. Should people be allowed to plea Internet addiction - NO, as it is not an addiction to the Internet but an addiction to a game that uses the Internet. By this argument you could blame the Internet for any number of crimes (On line fraud for example). Should they receive a pardon??? Get real - that Jamaican fund transfer boy would be dancing around if he could hear a proposal like this. Was not me man but de Internet Connection Addiction ting!

DadsPad
DadsPad

It is too naive to say over use (no reference to give here) can have your children taken away. Normal people would not neglect a child to be on the internet. Their children should be taken from them until it is evaluated they can be taken care of. Anytime a parent is too distracted to take care of a child's needs, the child should be taken. There is much more to this than just being online. Taking care of a child is part of most people's nature. It is just too simple to blame internet addiction. I think a judge should send all adults involved to counseling to find out what are the problems they were really dealing with. This, at first glance, seems to be more like gambling addiction, which is a recognizable illness. After having the couple evaluated, then the judge can give a more balanced ruling. It up to the judge to decide if a jail sentence or probation is best. But, to just throw up your hands and say internet addiction is just, somehow, not right. Normal people, outside of disabilitating habits like drug or alcohol addiction, will not neglect a child. This child neglect is abnormal behavior and should be treated as such. Before internet addiction can be given the same status as temporary insanity, it must be studied by experts to see if it is the root cause. I seem to remember a case that wanted to blame a murder of one child by another on watching television.

alxcsby
alxcsby

Neglect is neglect, regardless of any "cause". To ignore your kids for [i]anything[/i] is indicative of a deeper problem. The aetiology isn't the net or the game, or booze or anything else. Something is wrong in the parents, something drives them against a natural instinct. It's like media mouthpieces blaming video games for youth violence. Something is wrong in the person to begin with, if the "addiction" plays any role at all, it is merely a catalyst or an excuse.

nubbs17
nubbs17

I see a difference between an addiction to something, and plain out stupidity! I think these morons are simply looking for an excuse to not have to worry about any of their responsibilities, and have found that the mass media often uses the term "addiction" when referring to various online games. IT'S NOT AN ADDICTION!! It's laziness, lack of responsibility, and stupidity! I'm a hardcore gamer myself, but by god I get up and go to work, take care of things around the house, and have time for my wife, dog, and friends! Priorities, people!

btljooz
btljooz

Sonja your "[i]journalism[/i]" has been slowly sliding downhill for quite some time now. You have currently hit an all time low....as in Yel[b]low[/b].

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

As with many other things, it is a choice that was made, and after caught they want a 'free pass'. It is an excuse, and this one is truly a sad one. They were reaching for anything and came up with Internet Addiction. These parents should be jailed, with the max penalties. But I feel the same about drug/alcohol abuse as well. When people become parents, they need to re-evaluate their lives. They need to clean their act up a bit. If they are drugees or alcoholics, they need to get treatment. Or, they should be practising to not have children in the first place.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I don't care what the excuse for the behavior, the behavior itself is the issue.

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