Children At Risk (Kingsway) Review | ZX Computing - Everygamegoing

ZX Computing

Children At Risk
By Kingsway
Spectrum 48K

Published in ZX Computing #28

Children At Risk

Very little attention is drawn to the dark side of computer games. Although this only takes up one small section of this book which considers the pressures placed on children by modern socety, it is a relevant expression of a concerned parent and Christian.

The fact that the view expressed in this book does not concur with my own attitude does not distract from its relevance. From the dedication page, my hackles rose. Mary Whitehouse, Frederic Wertham and Charles Oxley are not three people for whom I have a lot of respect. Fortunately, the words of David Porter are a lot less provocative to me.

Whatever subject he discusses, he tries to list any positive benefits alongside the evil that he sees lurking in the shadows. Sensibly he berates the practices of software piracy and hacking as encouragement to break the law. When he goes on to attack adventure-style games he only seems to see the black magic element and I see no reference to the problem-solving and broadening effect which these games encourage.

The one question which I feel has no answer is whether killing in play increases the possibility of numbing the child to real life murder. Although my own childhood was spent playing cowboys and indians, cops and robbers and soldiers, I have matured into a fairly well adjusted adult with very positive anti-violent tendencies. Perhaps the role playing of adventures makes a child think more about what death means. Frequently attacking a creature in a game results in immediate annihilation for the attacker. Giving credence to the policy of achieving your aim by negotiation.

Obsession with the medium is warned against by the author but, in my experience, this does not cut the child off totally from social interaction with others. Parents who don't control their children would probably leave them glued to a much more influential medium, the television set.

Christian or not the book's subtext is one of caring about the interests of the child in a world where parental guidance seems to be going out of style. I can't say that I enjoyed the book but it certainly stimulated me to look more objectively at my own attitudes.

The scope of the book is much broader taking in other media influences and the evil of drugs and child abuse. I would classify this a a verbal purgative or a crie da la coeur. Here in one book are all the fears of a coming parent. The other side of the coin is that if you're too vehement about avoiding the wrongs in life, they take on a morbid attraction for the child during the rebellion of adolescence.

Eric Doyle