Yesterday a friend shared a news story about a girl who got hit by a car crossing a highway while playing Pokemon Go. At first I was like, “OMG, how sad!” And while it definitely is sad and scary, my perspective shifted to something else once I got into the actual story.
Turns out, instead of accepting personal responsibility for any carelessness that contributed to the accident or even calling the driver’s attention into question, the girl and her mother placed the blame on Pokemon Go.
An app. They held an app fully responsible.
WTF? That’s like blaming a drunk driving accident on the Pabst Blue Ribbon. “I’m sorry, officer, but the beer made me do it! If you’re going to arrest anybody, arrest that six pack!”
This is what’s wrong with some people today. Few people accept personal responsibility for their roles in how things play out, not only for themselves, but for others around them as well.
I see this behavior in my own children from time to time. When one of them fights with another, for example, and he gets in trouble, it’s not uncommon for him to come back with, “Well, he made me do it because ___.” My husband and I are on constant alert for this blame shifting, correcting our kids when it happens and reminding them that they and they alone are responsible for their actions.
Are our attempts to teach them personal accountability effective? I’m not sure yet. They’re still quite young, so only time will tell. But one thing I am sure of is that it’s our duty — and a constant, recurring duty at that — to do our damnedest to instill this sense of culpability in them so they have a good shot at growing up to be people who don’t blame everyone but themselves for things they are directly responsible for.
That this girl’s mother concurs that it’s the Pokemon Go app’s fault her daughter was injured, going so far as to urge other parents not to let their kids play it, only highlights society’s tendency to play the blame game.
The app didn’t hurt your kid, lady. It didn’t force her to do anything. And pretending it’s the app that’s entirely at fault isn’t helping her or anyone else.
Thank God this teen is OK. The outcome could have been so much worse. It shouldn’t have to take a near-tragic event to wake us all up to the importance of teaching our kids to take responsibility for themselves, but here we are.
We certainly can’t prevent accidents from happening to our kids, but we can encourage them to be aware and in charge of their own actions. In teaching them the importance of personal responsibility, we may also be able to protect them from situations such as this one. It’s worth a shot, at least.