Harmless Play or Fast-Food Fulfillment?

Would you believe me if I told you that children who play video games are far more likely to be obese than children who watch lots of TV? Psychiatric studies are actually showing us that TV viewing doesn’t relate to obesity as expected and that video game use is far more likely to be related to an unhealthy weight status. Who would have thought? There’s a lot of controversy surrounding video games and their negative effects on children. When I got involved in researching the subject, I was not expecting much of what I found.

About a year ago, Thomas Umstattd told me that he wanted me to do research on the dangers of digital gaming for his forthcoming book on the subject. Thomas, a former “hard-core” gamer, believes that a mighty army of God will rise from the computer screen “cave.” An amazing vision, and I was very willing to help out.

I was personally never a hard-core gamer. A lot of that is my Parent’s fault. (They, by the way, are more than willing to take credit for the fact that I didn’t turn into a zombie.) Sure I played more than I should, but I usually found something more interesting and moved on. Basketball, speech and debate, or whatever. When I started to research the lives of hard-core gamers, I was really amazed by what I found. Earlier this month, I posted a research paper that addresses some of the research I uncovered. You can see it here at CGames.com. I would absolutely love to get comments from YOU.

Now you’re probably wondering if I just blurted out that first question to shock you or if I actually had some support. Well, here are the studies with no guarantee that they’re infallible. A researcher at the University of Texas along with her college found that “…when parental obesity is taken into account, television viewing hours do not significantly relate to increased odds of childhood overweight…” (Vandewater and Huang 2006, 425). Wow. This was not some back-woods study performed by three geeks and their puppy dog. Vandewater and Haung studied 1483 6-19 year olds. Yeah, I thought that was out of this world, but it is true.

Elizabeth Vandewater (that professor at UT) along with a research team had, two years earlier, concluded that video games ARE very different in that they ARE correlated to obesity. This study questioned 2831 one to twelve year olds! Quote:

“Results indicated that while television use was not related to children’s weight status, video game use was.” (Vandewater et al. 2004, 71)

Pretty wild, hu? Want to learn more about the dangers (which include, but are not limited to, ruined health) of fast-food digital entertainment? You can visit CGames.com.

Resources: (check it out for yourself)

B. Morgan. “MMO: A Minor’s Massive Obsession.” CGames.com blog, 3 June 2008. http://www.cgames.com/2008/06/mmo-a-minors-massive-obsession (My Paper!)

Elizabeth A. Vandewater, Mi-suk Shim, and Allison G. Caplovitz. “Linking obesity and activity level with children’s television and video game use.” Journal of Adolescence 27 (2004): 71–85. (accessed via science direct)

E.A. Vandewater and X. Huang. “Parental weight status as a moderator of the relationship between television viewing and childhood overweight.” Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine 160.4 (April 2006): 425-31. (accessible via PubMed or the Archives: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/160/4/425)


Justice: Capital Punishment

“The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.”
~Thomas Jefferson (1816). [1]

“Texas Justice” has its own legacy, but it is now going through a process of being re-defined in the area of capital punishment. In fact, just “…Tuesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Heliberto Chi… In so doing, the court asked the state prison system to address ongoing questions about… lethal injection…”[2]

In the wake of this event, Rebeca Chapa, with the San Antonio News-Express, published a Wednesday commentary that starts off by outlining various facts regarding capital punishment in Texas, Kentucky, California, and in the past. It’s a very informative read.

Then, she adopts an editorial air. Chapa denounces all forms of capital punishment:

“At its core, the death penalty is fundamentally flawed. It leaves no room for human error and, more important, you do not kill to prove that killing is wrong. Now is the time for Texas to seriously consider a moratorium — if not an end — to the death penalty.”[2]

I have to disagree. Firstly, when she says “you do not kill to prove that killing is wrong” she misses a critical point. Death is a natural part of life. Last time I checked, there was no punishment for “killing;” just murder. Murder is the act of taking another innocent human’s life into your own hands; away from them. It is a violation of the most fundamental natural rights: the right to life. This is the reason that it is not only wrong to murder someone, but an offense within government jurisdiction.

When another’s rights are taken, it is government’s job to right the wrongs. The question, then, is simply what punishment to administer. I believe that execution is the best punishment to administer in the instance of clear murder.

What is ultimately lacking in Chapa’s proposal is a concrete goal that the justice system should pursue instead. As generally accepted, a successful sentence should promote three goals: 1) Compensation; 2) Punishment; and 3) Deterrence. Since compensation is impossible in the case of murder, we must look to uphold the second two goals.

A sentence must provide adequate punishment in order to maintain justice. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” That phrase is in the Old Testament at least three times; and every time it is used not as a justification for revenge, but as a standard for justice. “Let the punishment fit the crime” is the more generally accepted version. When the crime is murder, the only punishment that will fit it is death.

Finally, what is probably the most important goal of criminal punishment is to deter it from happening again. For most people, there isn’t anything more deterring than facing death itself.

If one looks at the issue in the light of the goals to be accomplished, we can see that, contrary to the opinions expressed by Rebeca Chapa, it is not time for a ban or even a moratorium on capital punishment, because it is still useful in our day to provide punishment and deterrence to the murderers that would otherwise terrorize our streets.


[1] Thomas Jefferson to Destutt de Tracy. “Political Economy,” (1816) in: Lipscomb and Bergh, ed. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Ed. (Washington, D.C.: Public Domain, 1903-04): 14, p 465. http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff0100.htm

[2] Rebeca Chapa. “Innocence is not the only issue in the death penalty debate” San Antonio Express-News. (October 3 2007) http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/stories/MYSA100407.02O.Chapa.2140242.html