Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Six-Year Old Misses Bus, Drives Himself to School

by Felicia Donovan

The phone rang at 6AM. I didn't even have to look at the Caller ID to know who it was.

"Write this down."

That's how my conversations with my CYBER CRIME FIGHTERS: TALES FROM THE TRENCHES co-author, Kristyn Bernier, often start. It means Kristyn is driving into the station and when Kristyn drives, she thinks.

"I just heard about a kid who missed the bus and drove himself to school."

"So what?"

"He was only six-years old."

I immediately jumped onto Google and found this article.

Sure enough, this little guy from Virginia whose mother overslept, took the keys to the family's 2005 Ford Taurus, hopped into the driver's seat and took off. He got almost six miles and was within two miles of his school before driving off the road and hitting a utility pole. The boy, who was evaluated at a local hospital for a bump on his head and released, made it to school after all - this time in a police cruiser. His parents have been charged with child endangerment.

"Unbelievable," I said.

"We'll put it in CYBER CRIME FIGHTERS 2," Kristyn said.

Not making the connection, I asked "Why?"

"Read the whole article," she said.

And there it was.

"The boy told police he learned to drive playing Grand Theft Auto and Monster Truck Jam video games."

OMG. Video games have evolved to the point that even the military uses them in simulation training. Really, that's what a simulator is - a big, expensive video game where grownups can practice real life adventures without getting hurt.

I'm relieved that the little boy was not seriously injured and the story is not without its lighter side. I can imagine the look on the other drivers' faces when they caught a glimpse (if they could even see him) of the young Dale Earnhardt, Jr, but then I was thinking about a few other things like the skills a lot of these video games teach. Driving? I'd prefer the traditional route of Dad handing over the keys at age 15 and trying to stay calm as you backed up over curbs while attempting to parallel park. But what about the other "skills" these games teach, like shooting, fighting, maiming and stealing cars?  Yup, our kids are learning a lot from these games, that's for sure. The proof is in that little boy.


Keith Raffel said...

Whatever happened to book larnin'?

G.M. Malliet said...

What I want to know is, how did his feet reach the pedals?