Opinion: Why Gordon Brown, Dr Tanya Byron and the Nanny State should stay out of technology

Columns & Opinion

Jon_small_new.jpgWhen does a Government go too far in a bid to protect its citizens? When it locks people up without a charge? When it bans people from taking to the streets and puts them under curfew? Or when it employs a TV presenter to look at how the Internet and computer games are harming the nation’s youngsters?

This week it’s been announced Dr Tanya Byron – star of such TV greats as House of Tiny Tearaways – is to preside over a review of what effect the web and console adventures are having on kids across Britain. And I for one find it not only laughable, but downright disgusting that Gordon Brown and his cohorts think they have the right to interfere in our lives which such a pointless exercise.

When teenagers throughout the land are being stabbed to death for their mobile phones or caught in the crossfire and shot dead by drug gangs,
you think a Government would attempt to find a solution to that – like locking the bastards up! But no, instead they decide to get a “clinical psychologist” to work out if surfing cyberspace and playing Halo 3 is turning the youth of today into well, I don’t know what.

What on earth do they expect to find, it seems the biggest waste of time, space and money that I can remember in recent years, so maybe the nanny state needs to point its mouse or joypad at another easy target.

Let’s be honest, I may be very nearly 30 but I can admit society today is different to when I was growing up. Kids now do create more havoc, or at least a very, very small minority do. But I hardly think you can blame Microsoft and Sony for that – after all, they provide youngsters with far more to do with their daily lives then the Government. No wonder they hang around on the streets, what else are they meant to do besides sit in the bedroom and play on their PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or Nintendo DS.

There is no firm evidence linking violent computer games to violence among the young, despite a few rare cases where it has been cited in
court as a reason for people murdering or being murdered. It is not an everyday occurrence and as we know, these games are aimed at adults
and not children. Parents should not be buying them for the young when they clearly say 18+ on the box.

I’m all for education though and if this review helps that, bring it on. Although why a parent can’t read a label on a box I’ve no idea.

Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls said: “Whether it is video games or the internet, parents feel that their children know far
more than them. It is hard for us, as we did not experience it ourselves, to know how to deal with it. We need to make sure that the regulation is working so that parents feel that it is right. That means working closely with the industry to make sure that they are doing their job in a responsible way.”

Well Mr Balls, you’re talking BALLS if you’d allow me to make such a silly joke on such a serious subject. There is already regulation, the British Board of Film Classification rates every game and as demonstrated by the Manhunt 2 ban, do it effectively. How about coming up with proper policies to empower the disenfranchised youth of today rathen than looking for blame within an industry that makes millions and millions of pounds for this country in a pathetic attempt to say it could be responsible for society’s ills.

Dr Byron reckons the review will be open and I’d like to know who will be consulted. It needs to be far-ranging if it is going to do any good but let’s face it, what’s it going to say at the end? It’ll point to a few games being “sick” and having action where you shoot people, stick knives in them and let rip against a few aliens. And someone somewhere will point and say that is precisely why the same things are happening here on Earth, except maybe for the alien blasting – but I guess we’d all be surprised by the amount of violence against aliens that occurs behind closed doors these days.

As for the Internet, not even this regulatory Government could touch that – that’s the whole point of the web and it does cause issues for every single country around the world whether that’s through fraud, paedophilia or general computer-based crime. That doesn’t mean it is bad for kids, on the contrary, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to the young – it’s like having the biggest library in the world within your living room.

And again it’s down to parents to ensure it is used responsibly and that their kids aren’t being groomed for sex by a weirdo or logging on to a porn site for a quick bit of virtual education in the “birds and bees”.

Dr Byron said: “This has been debated for many, many years and whenever there is anything in the press, often it is the video gaming industry that is blamed, or the internet that is blamed, and it is important to look at those issues.”

Looking is fine, meddling is something else and in the meantime, while she consults other so-called “experts”, real children will be dying and having their lives taken away due to real issues – not virtual ones – in a broken society that won’t be fixed by heaping scorn on useful technology!

Jonathan Weinberg is a voice of sanity in a strange cruel world – and is now off to play Killzone and check out www.easytargetstoblame.com

Jonathan Weinberg
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One thought on “Opinion: Why Gordon Brown, Dr Tanya Byron and the Nanny State should stay out of technology

  • Top article Jon, I saw your smiling melon from the homepage and knew it would be a good read – you didn’t disappoint!

    Now I’m off to play Guitar Hero which incidentally doesn’t make me want to hurt anyone despite them throwing the guitar on screen, perhaps i know the difference between a game and real life!

    Keep em coming

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