As a medium, video games have been blamed for a whole host of society's ills. Violence, obesity, and educational underachievement are just some of the high profile problems that have been laid on gaming's doorstep at one time or another. But now, video games are being portrayed as the cause of a much graver threat; namely, the decline in Australian pet ownership.
As Australian Veterinary Association President Kersti Seksel told the Sydney Morning Herald (and any other outlet that would listen) today's kids "interact more by playing computer games and less by going out there and throwing the ball to a dog." Why is this a problem, exactly? According to Seksel, "We need to learn people skills, physical skills, and sitting in the lounge room with a computer doesn't teach you that."
Leaving aside for a second the idea of learning "people skills" from playing with an animal, implying that game playing and pet ownership are somehow mutually exclusive is a little ridiculous. You might as well argue that reading books and talking on the phone are dangerous pastimes because they take away from time with poor, neglected Fido.
Pet ownership usually takes up only a small part of a child's day, and singling out video games for distracting from that time strikes us as a little opportunistic. And while "you can't hug a computer," as the SMH article points out in the lede, you also don't have to take a computer out for walks. Man's best friend, indeed.