Call of Duty: Black Ops? It's a first-person shooter game for PlayStation 3 that recreates many of the Black Ops missions of the Cold War. Even though it's rated 'M' for mature as a kids safety warning, it's really popular with teens. What's the worst that could happen?
Well, something frightening happened in the U.K. recently involving the game. A 13-year-old boy was playing Call of Duty: Black Ops at a friend's house and was talking trash to another gamer, 46-year-old Mark Bradford. Apparently Bradford knew where the boy was, and when he'd had enough he stomped into the house and began strangling him.
Luckily the boy escaped with only a few scratches (Bradford left with assault charges) after the boy's friend's mother walked in to the room. It could have been worse.
What did Bradford say in his defense? He wasn't trying to kill the boy, he told media. He just snapped because he'd been playing “all day” and that the boy “was just baiting me and would not shut up.”
Two lessons can be taken away from this bizarre story.
First, if this isn't a call to limit screen time than I don't know what is. Numerous studies suggest that spending too much time online can lead to clinical depression and/or a feeling of 'disconnect' from the real world. Bradford was certainly disconnected from reality (just a little) when he decided that strangling someone was the appropriate response to being insulted by a fellow gamer.
Second, this isn't so much about violent video games like Black Ops but about the maturity of the player of any online game. Does your child understand this his/her words online can push an individual over the edge? It's never a good idea to trash talk or put down others online, and kids who aren't mature enough to use their words on the Internet responsibly aren't ready to be online unsupervised.