January 4, 2008, - 4:50 pm

Weekend Read: Stop Your Kid From Becoming a Computer Game Zombie

By Debbie Schlussel
The holiday shopping season may be over, but demand for video games never is. If you are a parent, thinking twice and/or limiting time playing computer games might be in order. That’s not new advice. But it’s made all the more vivid by Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore in his scary column, “Teenage Zombies.” He writes about what happened to his kids after they got sucked into the cult of Nintendo–Xbox, Wii et al. He says video games have sucked the lives out of his kids.
Some excerpts:

My new year’s resolution is to get my two teenage sons back. They’ve been abducted–by the cult of Nintendo. I’m convinced that video games are Japan’s stealth strategy to turn our kids’ brains into silly putty as payback for dropping the big one on Hiroshima.


The trouble began last summer when my sons started spending virtually every unsupervised hour camped out in front of the computer screen engaged in multiplayer role games like World of Warcraft and Counterstrike. At the start of this craze, I wrote it off as merely a normal phase of adolescence. I was confident that, at 14 and 16, they would soon be more interested in chasing real-life girls than virtual video hoodlums.
Boy, was I wrong. Their compulsion became steadily more destructive. They grew increasingly withdrawn, walking around like the zombies from “Night of the Living Dead.” Unless I pried them (forcibly) from the computer, they would spend five or six hours at a time absorbed in these online fantasy worlds. . . .
I’m not one to blame every human frailty on some faddish psychiatric disorder. But I’m persuaded that computer games are the new crack cocaine. The testimonials from parents of online gamers are horrific: kids not taking showers, not eating or sleeping, falling behind in school. Some parents are forced to send their kids to therapeutic boarding schools, which charge up to $5,000 a month, to combat the gaming addiction. . . .
I am pleading that parents take this social problem seriously and intervene, as my wife and I wish we had done much earlier. . . . I’m proud to report that we rejected our youngest son’s pleas for a PlayStation for Christmas. He pouts that we’re the meanest parents in the world. Someday he’ll thank us. A mind really is a terrible thing to waste.

Read the whole thing.

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11 Responses

Well here’s the other side of the arugement. As a avid videogame player, I can easly tell you that I was able to grow up like a normal person. I was only allowed to play videogames when my mother told me to, and despite the terrible things she did to me in life…at least that’s something to be proud of her for. I don’t see those parents in the article ever did that with their son. When I lived with my father, yes I had my own TV and my videogames in my room. But did I ever turn out like a zombie? No…I took my showers and I always did my homework and studying before anything else that day. And I’m not the only youngster out there that always did it like this.
I own a Xbox 360 and I play online with it all the time. To date I’ve never skipped showers, socialize with people (well..in my program.), ate all the time. And back in high school I wasn’t the brightest student, but I never fell behind. Yes, despite playing videogames all those times.
So to blame videogames for childen’s withdrawing from society is a bunch of BS. Might as well say the same about music, TV, and whatever else the kids are into. So yes…I STRONGLY oppose what your getting at here Debbie. Videogames is only an addiction becuase the parents did jack about limiting their child’s time on videogames. And once agian, we go right back to the responsiblity of the parent.
Videogames is an addiction…my ass it is!! -_-

Squirrel3D on January 4, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Hey Squirrel3D, I absolutely agree with you. Video games are not the problem. As a kid who was abused and neglected, games were a solace for me while growing up. I played more than my fair share, but still managed to have friends, do what I needed to do, graduate from high school, graduate from UCLA, etc., etc.

cinerx on January 4, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Debbie, I see bad parenting everywhere I look. This WSJ guy needs to strap on some balls and assert his parental authority. I wouldn’t let my kids fester like that, but if I were him I’d throw the games away and go from there.

Anonymous1 on January 4, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Dear Debbie, I have been reading your page for a very long time and this is the first time I really disagree with you, so I registered to typekey to post this..
I started playing computer games at the age of 10. now I am 32 and still playing.
my grades in school, especially in English (English is not my mother tongue) were terrible, but I got so good in English, that I even studied English literature at the University. How? I played role playing games that had tons of English text and riddles in it, so I had to look up many many words; later I played online with people from all over the world. I had to learn to speak and write English fluently. Now I only read English books, read English blogs and came to notice (also because of your terrific website) the abysmal gap between the reality of the media and what is really going on.
My parents also did a terrible job raising me. Without this alternate reality in games and the new ways of communicating with very different people who were not from my small town, I would have developed into a narrow minded zombie, like so many of my former colleagues.
There is however a big difference between true computer games and “console games”. The latter usually does not demand any communication skills, little thinking and only fast fingers. Computer games are very diverse (the good kind 😉 ). They can demand superb managing skills (corporation leaders in EVE online), logic and strategical thinking (strategy games), language skills (for non English players) and out-of-the-box thinking (puzzle and adventure games).
I think playing computer games can be much less harmful than reading the New York Times.
I think TV is really the problem. TV teaches ideologies, and leftist pseudo reality. I threw out my TV 5 years ago. I got sick of the non ending vilification of the US and the constant criticism and lies about Israel in our media.
In games it is about win or lose. There is little room for “teaching” children to “help the environment” or supporting the “palestinian cause”.
They can be addictive, they can steal time, but they will not turn the youth into traitors on our civilization.

Schlusselfan on January 5, 2008 at 10:35 am

one other thing: games teach you that there is a winner and a loser. The whole concept is against the leftist idea that we can all be winners or can all get along. especially the harsh world of online role playing games teach teamwork and that there are enemies, other players, who want to harm or kill (your character). And those enemies and other players do not follow the rule of hollywood: white is complex but evil and “ethnic” (especially hispanic) is simple minded but morally superior.

Schlusselfan on January 5, 2008 at 11:16 am

This WSJ parent sounds a bit lacksidasical. If I played too much Nintendo or Sega as a kid, my mom would unplug the system mid game and literally throw me out of the house to go and play or get fresh air. I knew better than to fall behind on my homework or, guess what? I would no longer have a gaming system, would not be allowed to view TVS at home, and would live under virtual lockdown. Permissive parenting is the problem here, Deb, not video games. Blaming video games is almost the same as liberals trying to sue McDonalds because their pansies of kids are larda$$es.

JasonBourne81 on January 5, 2008 at 12:45 pm

I’d also suggest that every parent play the game under consideration before buying it. The games are NOT addictive, as mentioned above, but they involve people in a way no other entity ever has. I played one once and didn’t come up for air for 14 hours. A drug trip? No, but a trip deep into my imagination. Something not recommended for young kids.
As suggested above, strong parenting will always solve things. Always. BTW, when my kid was 16 or so he bought an advanced version of the same game with his own money. When he came up for air (after two hours because I was going to shut down the computer), he said “Holy Shit, dad.”

Duke on January 5, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Whoa! I think the author and those who bash gamers need to slow down and take a deep breath.
I myself is / was a gamer for a very long time. Started with Wolfenstein, then on to Doom, then Doom 2, then DukeNukem 3d, then Quake, then Quake II, then Quake 3D Arena and finally Counterstrike.
Used to play and provide technical assistance for the DWANGO and H2H server here in San Jose, CA. Yes, the same servers where some of the best gamers in the world came from early on – such as Thresh.
So am I and the other hardcore gaming folks I used to play with and still keep in touch with “Zombies”?
Quite the opposite…
Pretty much all of us went through college, got haircuts and a job and wore clean clothes. If you met us today, and chatted you wouldn’t know that we were “Zombies” unless you asked…
Many of us literally dropped our gaming “addiction” the moment our first borns were born. I did…my boy was born March 7th, 2003 and I haven’t played a second of Counterstrike since.
…but if my online gaming buddies were to email/call and say,
“Hey! MrRabbit! How about renting a 300 seat room in the Santa Clara Convention just like in the old days for a get together just like we did before.”
…I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. Two kinds of networking take place at moments like that – a computer network and a social network of the techno/nerd kind.
The NRA has theirs, and neighborhood granny’s have their Bingo get togethers every Friday night.
Too each their own…
I’ll admit, there is sort of an addiction to it – but not much different from that person in love with Simicrome, a rag, and the chrome on their Harley.
One other point as well, I know a guy who is literally a social super-glued-shut clam in person. However online in gaming circles he is the most sociable, likeable and easiest-to-communicate-with person in the world.
So for some, it’s an avenue for something they are just not to good at elsewhere.
My advice for the author…
Give it a shot. Try it out. You just might like it and have a change of mind. Most likely you won’t as has been my experience as most people will say, “Cool, interesting…but no thanks!”.
At least try it and then come back and give us and update.

mrrabbit on January 5, 2008 at 10:52 pm

My son is 16 and a gamer. He also is enrolled in a unique program at his school, studying Cisco networks. As of last Friday he won a local Cisco competition and now heads to compete on the state level. His last report card was 2 A’s and 3 B’s. I suppose I am a bad parent for letting him play games. What’s next, a junk science report saying Monopoly is harmful too? As with anything, moderation is key. If a child wishes to permanently live in a virtual world as opposed to the real thing, I would seriously investigate what kind of healthy nurturing home environment that child is being raised in.

sirsurfalot on January 6, 2008 at 10:41 pm

I never really played video games, but this reminds me of another activity my friends and I were involved in in the late 70s early 80s, going to Grateful Dead Concerts or just listening to their music. We all sit around the neighborhood or later at college and habitually to the point of almost addiction talk about, read about, listen to the music. The same for any music when the big well known acts were selling vinyls and having concerts. There were clothing styles to go with it just as well.
There were always parents complaining about something, no matter what decade. Elvis, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra. Rock and Roll, old and new. Like what a number of people said, it is parental involvement, kick the kid out of the house, or sit there with the kid. Pull the plug. Who is the parent there.

StuLongIsland on January 6, 2008 at 11:04 pm

This conversation is going no where. It’s lacking the place of a
good leader to head the things to come out on conclusion.
new years club

new years club on June 12, 2010 at 8:51 am

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