One of the strangest and saddest stories being reported about recently is about a South Korean couple who allegedly neglected their own baby to the point of death while caring for a virtual child online. Reports state that the couple’s 3-month-old daughter was only being fed once a day while the parents took part in lengthy 12-hour internet cafe sessions playing a 3-D game in which they doted on a virtual child. The infant’s autopsy reveals she died from malnutrition.
A recent report from CNN discusses some of the details about this case of neglect in South Korea. The online 3-D game the couple was playing is called Prius Online. The premise of the game is for the player to nurture their "online companion", Anima, who grows and gains powers as the game progresses.
According to the police in Seoul, the couple, a 25-year-old woman and 41-year-old man, had lost their jobs and used the game as an escape from reality. It is being speculated that they were also using the game as a distraction from having to deal with caring for the premature birth of their now deceased daughter. Police officer Chung Jin -Won states, "They instead played an online game in which they raised a virtual character so as to escape from reality, which led to the death of their real baby."
Author, Michael Breen, of a book called "The Koreans" tries to explain how something like this could possibly happen. Breen says, "South Korea remains a very conservative society so people who fall outside the norm can come under severe stress and pressure. The internet has provided such people with a paradise to escape and simply get lost in." The idea of the internet being like a drug has become more popular in recent years as new websites and games are developed and people admit to the addictive effect it has on them.
What do you think of these reports that a South Korean couple neglected their infant to the point of death to care for a virtual child?
Do you think the internet can be as addictive to some people as drugs or alcohol?