Brain Leaks: Parenthood On Facebook — Pt 2 — Social Gaming Consequences
A recent headline inspired me to take a weeklong Facebook Detox, starting today: A northern Colorado woman who was playing a game on Facebook while her 13-month-old drowned in a bathtub was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison. Shannon Johnson, 34, was so consumed by that day’s session of Café World that she didn’t think twice about leaving her baby alone in a tub full of water.
AP reports that Johnson put her son in the tub for his bath a little after 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 20. She then left him unsupervised as she went to another room to share videos, check status updates and play Café World on Facebook.
So while her child drowned, Johnson was enjoying the psychological rewards of being in charge of her own virtual restaurant, making her way to the top of Zynga‘s fake culinary world.
Zynga, the creator of FarmVille and a lot of other social games, has a talent for ripping off products from other companies and creating their own addictive Facebook games that are particularly popular with mothers.
Let me just preface the rest of this post by saying that I’m not into slippery slope talk. Obviously, not every parent who enjoys social gaming on Facebook is going to make the same negligent mistake that Johnson did. However, I’m bringing this up anyway to raise a concern that I have about how social gaming impacts family life and the gamer’s view of his/her own abilities.
There are many studies being released these days about the cognitive benefits of gaming. Quest 2 Learn, a digital school in NYC, uses gaming as part of their curriculum. So clearly, gaming isn’t the enemy. Games didn’t kill little Joseph. Negligence did. Before gaming hit the mainstream, parents went to jail for accidents that happened while they watched TV. Today, it’s happening all over the world because of gaming addictions. Same problem — different platform. (more…)