British tabloid newspaper, The Sun, has started rewriting and reposting its own content in order to give it an anti-videogame spin.
The Sun has claimed that an unexpected rise in rickets in children is because of videogame addiction. The condition, caused by a lack of vitamin D and typically characterized by bowed legs, was thought to be almost entirely eradicated in the 30s, but a new study reportedly found signs of the condition in one in five of the children it tested.
The story, which bears the headline, “Game Addict Kids Hit by ‘Extinct’ Bone Disease,” appears to be a rewritten version of a story from the day before. The original story was a simple reporting of the study’s findings, with comments from Professor Nicholas Clarke, who led the research. The following day it was rewritten by the Sun’s “Health and Science Editor” Emma Morton with the new, sensationalist headline, and the anti-videogame angle.
Both stories were reporting on a survey conducted by doctors in the English town of Southampton, which examined 200 local children and found that more than a fifth of them showed signs of rickets. Clarke said that he was astonished by the results, and that it was a “completely new occurrence,” that had seemingly sprung up over a very short space of time, just 1-2 years. He added that the condition didn’t seem to be limited one particular group or area, affecting the rich and poor equally. Disappointingly for the Sun, Clarke seems to never make the connection between rickets and videogames himself, instead saying a combination of modern lifestyle, poor diet, and reduced sun exposure because people were covering up more when they went out was to blame.
Morton’s rewritten version of the article is irresponsible, misleading and obfuscates the facts behind the rise in the condition. Videogames certainly contribute to children spending more time inside, but they are far from the being the root of the problem as Morton implies. If the problem is significant – and I’d say that one in five kids having rickets qualifies – then pointing a finger at videogames and distracting people from the actual problem is completely unhelpful.
That said, as disappointing and frustrating as it is, it’s naïve to expect tabloid publications like the Sun not to put a spin on a story like this in order to get more people to look at it. The article does, at least, contain the relevant and important information, even if you have to scroll past a load of sensationalist rubbish to get to it.
Source: via CVG