Monday, 15 November 2010

The Sun, video games and rickets

On Friday, a press release from Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust reported on research from consultant orthopaedic surgeon Professor Nicholas Clarke and Dr Justin Davies, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist. After checking over 200 children in Southampton for bone problems, Clarke and Davies found that more than one-fifth showed signs of rickets.

CVG point out that when the Sun got hold of the press release, their 'Staff Reporter' produced an article that looked like this:

But by Saturday, in the hands of Health and Science Editor Emma Morton, the story changed to this:

As Tim Ingham at CVG noted:

Both pieces...contain exactly the same information and quotes.

Could it be that the first story has been hastily edited and re-printed in a desperate attempt to mould it to The Sun's anti-games news agenda?

We're not cynical enough to suggest so. It's just... aside from its screaming headline, the second story only mentions video games once, in its opening paragraph. The rest is pretty much a carbon copy of the original report. Even The Sun's own doctor, Carol Cooper, doesn't mention games in her analysis.

Nor indeed does the Mail, which always likes to blame video games for something.

As Ingham points out, Clarke is quoted as saying that this increase in rickets is:

"...a completely new occurrence that has evolved over the last 12 to 24 months."

Yet kids have been playing video games for rather longer than that. And there's simply no mention of video games in Southampton Hospital's press release, which makes clear:

...the disease is now making a comeback around the world due to low vitamin D levels caused predominantly by lack of exposure to sunlight and also poor diet.

It also says absolutely nothing about whether 'game addict kids' are more likely to suffer with rickets.

But this isn't the first time this year this has happened. Ingham recalls similar research by Professor Simon Pearce and Dr Tim Cheetham of Newcastle University that was published in January and which led to the Times and the Metro to make the same link. When contacted by Nicholas Lovell about the media reports, Cheetham said:

"We do not say that gaming causes rickets."

Pearce added:

"The average age of a child with rickets is around 20 months old: too young to use a keyboard and mouse!"

(Hat-tip to Jay and Tim Ingham)


  1. But kiddies can't go outside any more because of the gangs of roaming paedophiles.

  2. I knew this rang a bell...

    "Gaming leads to surge in rickets!" was the front page story of the Metro on January 22nd 2010. I know this because I took a picture of the headline as it was so ridiculous and just dug the image out on my computer.

    So is the Scum really now copying ideas from 9 month old issues of the Metro?


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