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Reno couple blame Net for child neglect; bloggers blame couple

This week in Nevada, a new case for social workers and little tolerance for parents accused of abuse.

Claims of Internet and video game addiction aren't getting any sympathy from bloggers. And if the so-called Internet addicted can't get understanding from people who spend much of their day on a computer, it's doubtful anyone else will buy it.

The Associated Press this week reports on a Reno, Nev., couple accused of criminal neglect of their two young children. A neighbor phoned police to report a child's incessant wailing, and when police arrived, they found garbage piled up, the couple playing video games and plenty of food and baby formula in the fridge. The children were malnourished, dehydrated and riddled with infections, their muscles atrophied. Their parents, Michael and Iana Straw, ages 25 and 23, respectively, are claiming "Internet addiction" as their defense.

The Reno Gazette-Journal points out that child abuse and neglect cases often come out of alcohol- and substance-addicted families, but this seems to be the first time the Web has been cited as a cause.

The American Medical Association last month decided not to decide whether video game addiction was a real mental disorder. Their official statement was along the lines of "it's too new and we don't have enough information yet," but it's been proposed and will be researched. As with other addictions, the question seems to be where to draw the line. Is it a bad habit or a mental illness when someone spends dozens of hours a week playing online games? Is it an addiction when they can't stop even if they want to?

Michael recently inherited $50 grand and spent much of it on a plasma TV and state-of-the-art computer gaming system. He is an "unemployed cashier" and she a warehouse temp worker. What happened to the Straws to insulate them so thoroughly from the realities of adult life? Are they irresponsible or are they sick? Some are saying these young people suffer from a far deeper affliction than compulsive gaming.

Let us quote from the less vitriolic end of the blogging spectrum:

"In truth, I don't really care whether these people are simply bad, or sadly addicted to Dungeons and Dragons. To render two people, never mind flesh and blood, near death while you shirk adult responsibilities and play games is outrageous."
--madness, madness i say!

"Sucky people shouldn't breed."
--LiveJournal user oshiah

"Even apes take care of their young...GROW THE HELL UP. You want to screw up your own lives, fine. Give the kids to people who WANT them and go live in your fantasy realm of no responsibility and no dependencies. Go live where you CAN hit a reset button if you die. Go live where there are no emotional attachments or interactions. But your kids deserve better than that, damn it."
--LiveJournal user hayley76