Several years ago, I was approached by a young boy outside a classroom.
“Do you have a knife I can borrow?” he asked.
“A knife?” I replied. “Why do you need a knife, Jack?”
“Because I am going to kill that girl,” he replied.
Jack was not joking. His remarks were made in earnest and with intent.
We were standing outside the second-grade classroom for a teacher-student “Come to Jesus” moment. Only I was the one in need of Jesus at that moment. I didn’t know how to handle this deeply troubled young boy. The girl Jack was referring to was the one he had been arguing with moments before I asked him to step out in the hallway with me.
At that time, nobody in Columbine, Colorado or Moses Lake, Washington worried about the dangers that might await their children at school.
At that time, psychologists and parents and educators were just beginning to debate the impact of video games upon children. This was the time when Mario was still jumping over high towers.
Nobody argues much about the impact visual violence upon children anymore. We pretty much accept that children repeatedly exposed to violence become inured to violence. So it doesn’t surprise us to learn that child killers like Dylann Roof and Adam Lanza spent untold hours shut away in their rooms playing violent video games. We expected as much.
Yet a Kaiser Family Foundation study revealed that most parents don’t have a clue how much time their children are spending online. Parents use technology as a means to placate children. It is this generation’s form of past generation’s admonition to “go outside and play.” Parents worried about having their children snatched don’t tell them to go outside and play anymore. Instead, they happily hand their children an iPad or iPhone or the remote and send them off to entertain themselves for hours on end.
The average 8-to-10 year old spends nearly eight hours a day engaged with some form of screen-time media. Teens spend an average of eleven hours a day watching TV, playing video games, texting, sexting, Facebooking, etc.
All this screen time doesn’t come without consequences.
And now comes word that China is the first country to designate Internet Addiction as a clinical disorder. A new documentary – Web Junkie – takes a look at just how commonplace this addiction has become for the youth of China today. China can be credited for being far more progressive in its recognition that there is a problem. The film takes a look at the boot camp for teenage web junkies.
Here in America, we applaud web junkies and give them outrageously high-paying jobs in Silicon Valley.
Or we give them guns for birthdays and buy locks for our bedroom doors.