Children as young as 9 years old who are trying to win video games are launching attacks against computer networks. In an attempt to get any edge that they can against opponents in online games, they use mods and other computer software to attack the networks of their opponents, slowing that opponent’s network connection to a crawl. This gives them an edge and enables them to win the game.
Research has suggested that many young students do not consider it “wrong” to disrupt other players’ gaming experience because it is considered just “another way to win,” their peers are doing it too, and they certainly do not believe that they are likely to get into any trouble with the law.
While in the immediate, it is disturbing that children are slowing Internet service, the most troubling thing about this is the attitude. The “I need to achieve at all costs” attitude lowers the bar for what children consider cheating and unethical behavior. This attitude that it is OK to attack an opponent’s network to beat him at a game is the equivalent of hiding your opponent’s baseball bat in order to prevent him from getting on base. The children view it as “using your resources” to win the game.
This is an indication that children are viewing unethical behavior as something that is acceptable, as long as it helps you win. This is carrying over into other facets of their lives. They cheat on homework. They cheat on tests. When teachers call them on it, they claim that they were just using the resources available to them. Too often, their parents support this attitude.
So these children eventually grow into adults, and those adults have the same set of morals and opinions that they learned as children: a winner take all attitude where the ends always justify the means.
Now apply this attitude to politics. It becomes OK to stuff ballot boxes. It becomes OK to game mail in balloting. All that matters is winning, and gaming an election becomes a mere exercise in “using your resources” to win the game. At any cost.
We learn our sense of fair play, morality, and how to interact with others from playing games with other children when we ourselves are children. If we are allowing our children to think it is acceptable to damage computer networks to win at a video game, what will they think is acceptable when they want to win an election?