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Okay, so I know from first hand experience just how addictive those games on Facebook are - I have grown cities, aquariums and crops; I have operated a hotel, cafe and a retail shop; I fell victim to logging in several times a day and on more than one occasion put these games ahead of real life.  But we're talking about relatively inconsequential tasks - a newsletter sent out half an hour later, than planned, the house work completed in the afternoon rather than in the morning, or dinner not on the table at the strike of 6pm.  But at no point did I lose sight of reality or forgo my responsibilities as a parent!

I admit, I am the first to jump on cases such as these.  Not because I am a martyr or a perfect parent - such things don't exist - but because I feel outraged at the injustices of the world that allows people who are clearly not worthy of being a parent to be entrusted with precious innocent children.  And the irony is that when I post these horrific articles, I am the one who is ostracised for 'assuming the worst' and for not considering the full story and a possibly acceptable explanation for what happened.

Perhaps she's suffering from PND, has just lost her job, or her partner recently walked out on her.  In my humble opinion, none of those are acceptable explanations - they are poor excuses.  I have suffered from depression, experienced panic attacks, struggled through financial stresses, but at NO point did I lose control to the extent of harming anyone or failing to provide the necessities of life for my child.

Back in my day of playing these online games, I too felt irritated when servers went down and occasionally went searching for answers on message boards.  The anger and abusive language I encountered made me physically ill - how could people be that engrossed in a game that they would waste precious time and energy posting hostile messages? 

Whilst I remain relatively confident that I would never be sucked that deeply into obsession over a game, I decided a while back that it was time to pull the plug.  And it was only after I deleted the applications that I realised just how consumed I really was.  Although I wasn't a complete slave to my virtual world, I had developed a knack for game play that enabled me to best utilise my 'free time' during the day and evening to most effectively progress through the game levels.  This meant yet another task on my daily 'to do' list to agonise over if I wasn't able to complete it.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against playing games - after all, we all need our 'downtime' to chill out and recharge our batteries.  Whilst some enjoy reading or watching DVDs, others enjoy arts and crafts or completing jigsaw puzzles.  Athletic types enjoy the adrenalin rush of individual or team sports, likewise, gym junkies can't relax without a regular sweat session.  Zoning out playing a game could very well encompass the adrenalin rush, the rewards and feelings of achievement, and the relaxation - and no doubt, somewhere, some academic type is conducting the research and writing the paper on the topic.

Clearly, online games are on par with any other addictive substance and just as the occasional glass of wine in a social setting or to unwind at the end of a busy week doesn't make you an alcoholic, nor does playing the occsaional game indicate that you have lost a grip of reality. 

The recent anti-alcohol abuse campaign rings in my head: It isn't the games we're playing, it's the way in which we're playing that's the problem.  Get a grip people - it is just a game!

Does the woman in this article have a deeper issue which drove her to killing her child?  Heck yes!!  Could her issue excuse her actions?  Absolutely not and she needs to pay the consequences.  If she has a mental illness, she needs to be treated and monitored for the rest of her life.

 

 

 

 

Stuff.co.nz | Friday, 29 Sep 2010

Mother kills baby for Facebook interruption

A north Florida mother has pleaded guilty to shaking her baby to death after the boy's crying interrupted her game on Facebook.

Alexandra Tobias pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Wednesday and remains jailed.

The Florida Times-Union reports that she told investigators she was angered because the boy was crying while she was playing the game FarmVille. The paper also reports that she told investigators she shook the boy, smoked a cigarette to compose herself and then shook him again.

She will be sentenced in December. State guidelines call for 25 to 50 years, but a prosecutor said it could be shorter than that.

A telephone message and an e-mail sent by The Associated Press to her attorney weren't immediately returned.