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?


Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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