Xbox only partly to blame

Police are investigating a possible connection between Xbox and 15-year-old Brandon Crisp’s disappearance from his home two weeks ago, CBC News reported Oct. 25.

The teenager left his family home on Oct. 13 after an argument in which his parents took away his Xbox video game console.

Crisp’s parents said they were worried he was becoming addicted to the game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and have taken away his gaming privileges before following similar arguments.

Microsoft, which manufactures Xbox, has offered a $50,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to Crisp’s whereabouts.

Steve Crisp, Brandon’s father, said he’s worried one of the people his son has been playing online games with may have lured him from home.

But it’s unfair to blame Xbox directly for Crisp’s behaviour. The company simply manufactures the products; it’s up to consumers to be responsible in using them.

The offer of a reward, however, is a good marketing strategy. Microsoft’s show of goodwill effectively negates efforts to blame Xbox for the situation.

Although this move is primarily a public relations stunt, any effort to bring Crisp back home quickly and safely should be applauded.

The company should also support initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of addictions.

But it’s unclear whether Crisp left home solely because of the Xbox argument.

Mental health issues are a legitimate concern amongst teenagers and can’t be written off as the effects of puberty.

This incident should be used to discuss safer gaming measures, such as setting a minimum age requirement for online gaming. These issues require in-depth analysis before any measures are implemented.

Psychologists and sociologists have gained momentum in studying teenage mental health issues, and a large corporate show of support could help generate publicity for that area of study.

This is about recognizing that video game manufacturers and parents alike have to recognize their collective responsibility to educate children on safe gaming practices.

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