Researchers in the U.K. have discovered that, contrary to long-held conventional wisdom, videogaming does not cause rickets.
Okay, I admit it: That headline may not be entirely true. As you might have suspected, there has in fact been no "long-held conventional wisdom" that gaming causes rickets, a bone-softening disease most commonly suffered by small children in developing countries that can lead to fractures and deformities. But it is a fact that researchers in the U.K. have now stated explicitly that gaming does not cause rickets.
How did this rather odd situation come about? A paper published in the British Medical Journal by Professor Simon Pearce and Dr. Tim Cheetham of Newcastle University noted a rise in the incidence of the disease, which results from a deficiency in vitamin D. "Vitamin D levels in parts of the population are precarious," Pearce said. "The average worker nowadays is in a call center, not out in the field. People tend to stay at home rather than going outside to kick a ball around. They stay at home on computer games."
The mainstream media, naturally, seized upon the report with headlines blaring things like "Videogaming Leads to Surge in Rickets." While most outlets were happy to sensationalize and move on, Games Brief contacted both researchers for further comment. Fortunately, they seemed quite happy to set the record straight.
"I understand Metro has said that we have linked computers to rickets, whereas we are actually saying lack of outdoor activity in childhood is a risk for poor D nutritional state," Dr. Cheetham said, unequivocally adding, "We do not say that gaming causes rickets."
Furthermore, Professor Pearce noted, "The average age of a child with rickets is around 20 months old: Too young to use a keyboard and mouse!"
Pearce summed up his feelings about the job done by reporters even more succinctly in an email sent to Tom Watson, a Member of Parliament in the U.K. known for his support of the videogame industry. "No we really didn't do a study to show that, or say that gaming causes rickets," he wrote. "It was a classic piece of dodgy lazy journalism, taking three words out of PA's hyped-up version of our press release."
You can't get much more official than that.