The Internet can be a tremendously helpful tool. It can provide quality resources and entertainment. That said, we all know it has a dark side as well. This is dramatically emphasized in our children’s lives. On the positive side we have exciting resources like the relaunch of “Reading Rainbow.” However, today’s post is going to focus on two difficult stories exposing the dark influence some online/gaming activity can have on children.
In working with Kathy on her new book “Screens and Teens: Connecting With Our Kids In A Wireless World,” I have run across these examples of how truly dangerous online gaming and websites can be. There are unfortunately many examples, but I want to highlight these two and ask some questions at the end of this post I hope you will respond too.
The first example is of four teens who committed suicide apparently tied to a game titled “Call of Duty”. From the Daily Mail:
Violent video game is now linked to 4 teenage deaths: Coroner investigates Call of Duty after suicide of boy who played it in bedroom
- John Pollard has ‘great concerns’ after game was mentioned at inquests
- Spoke at inquest into death of William Menzies, 16, who ‘always’ played CoD
- Another teenager Callum Green, 14, hanged himself after playing war game
- The game has an 18 Certificate but the teenagers were all under that age
- ‘In three or four inquests into the deaths of teens, the Call of Duty game seems to be figuring in recent activity before death,’ Mr Pollard said
- Previously urged parents to stop their children using adult video games
- Read more here. Follow Daily Mail: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Something else to consider (also mentioned in the above article) is that this game was also tied to the murderer who committed the largest known mass shooting in Norway a few years ago. He claimed it was the program he used to “train” himself to commit the murder of 77 people.
The second example is of two 12 year old girls wanting to earn a higher status on a horror website titled “Creepy Pasta” (I refuse to link to it). They planned, for months, to kill a “best friend” simply for that higher online status. They ended up stabbing their friend 19 times:
WAUKESHA (WITI) — 12-year-old Morgan Geyser, and 12-year-old Anissa Weier were charged as adults on Monday, June 2nd — accused of stabbing another 12-year-old girl over the weekend. Apparently, all three of the girls in this case were friends.
The two 12-year-old girls are accused of plotting their friend’s murder for months — and attempting to kill her this weekend.
“Based on our investigation, it is believed that the suspects had planned to kill the victim for several months. The Waukesha Police Department is deeply saddened that this 12-year-old girl had to suffer through this horrific crime,” said Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack.
The complaint says police spoke with Weier — who spoke about a website called “CreepyPasta.”
The complaint says Weier explained this was a website that talked about horror stories — and people can create their own stories.
It is on this website that Weier told police she learned about “Slenderman” — the leader of CreepyPasta. Just below Slenderman is the killer. Just below the killer is the proxy. In order to be a proxy, Weier explained, you have to kill someone — to show your dedication to Slenderman, according to the complaint.
The complaint says Weier told police many people do not believe Slenderman is real — and she said she wanted to prove the skeptics wrong.
Click here to read the full article. It’s a miracle the stabbing victim survived, but both of the 12 year olds will be tried as adults and could face up to 60 years in prison.
Depressed yet? Wouldn’t blame you if you were.
I want to state clearly that I am not saying these examples will or won’t appear in Kathy’s book. I am not helping “write” the book. I am just doing research and these stories have popped up in that process. Also, when I ask the questions below, it is from my curiosity. I don’t want to just “expose” the darkness. I would like to talk about practical responses on how to shine a healing/redemptive light into it.
So, here are the questions that come to mind (in no particular order):
- First off, if you have a gut response and want to jump straight to the comments, go for it.
- How much responsibility do online websites and gaming own with regard to these acts?
- When thinking of the parents of these young teens, what is your initial response?
- How do we help parents oversee/intervene, in a child’s online and gaming involvement?
- Are you aware of any resources to help parents prevent this from happening to their children? … to help children protect themselves from being hijacked by this kind of darkness?
- Do any spiritual/scriptural references come to mind after reading and thinking about these stories?