Any time anything happens with the kids it’s always video games, isn’t it? Teen violence is up? Obesity on the rise? Kids stomping on turtles, breaking bricks with their heads, and eating mushrooms? You guessed it: video games. Now, a new report published by the BBC claims that our beloved games are leading to more and more children getting behind the wheel without a license. Is this more anti-game fear mongering, or is there something going on here?
Traffic arrest data obtained by the BBC show that underage driving arrests in the UK rose from 696 in 2014 to 1,024 in 2017. Thirty-three of those arrests were for children under 13 years old, while the youngest was 12. One British automotive group says these figures represent merely “the tip of the iceberg” and that the problem is much more widespread than what the arrest totals show. Are video games truly to blame?
According to the AA, Britain’s less lengthy version of the AAA, they are. AA president Edmund King says video games now serve as a driving simulator for many young people, giving them unfounded confidence in their real-world driving abilities:
There are more and more video games out there now that are able to effectively teach people how to drive. With these games you can buy a clutch, a steering wheel, a break so even if they’re getting into a manual car for the first time, they know, or think they know how to drive it. These games are giving youngsters the confidence to get behind the wheel even when they shouldn’t be.
I guess. I mean, I might be a Mario Kart wizard and F-Zero expert and all, but I would never equate those with real-world driving ability. Still, I have to admit today’s racing games are much more realistic and feature real-world vehicles and environments. Are games teaching young people to drive too soon? What is too soon? If you can drive, you can drive right?