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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Kid Dies From a Video Game Marathon

For years when I was growing up, I heard adults advise us kids: “everything in moderation.” Sadly, many kids today have never learned this. Too much Xbox-playing may have led to a young British man’s death.

Twenty-year-old Chris Staniforth, who reportedly played the game “Halo” on his Xbox for up to 12 hours at a time, died in May from deep vein thrombosis, a condition triggered by sitting for extremely long periods of time. A coroner said that there was a blood clot that formed in Staniforth’s leg that moved up to his lungs to cause a fatal pulmonary embolism, the New York Daily News reported. This problem usually occurs among people who sit on a long-haul flight, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms involve leg swelling from the blood clots, followed by shortness of breath, chest pain and dizziness.

You and I may feel this is an exaggerated illustration. Unfortunately, it is not an isolated case. Many kids suffer from the problems of sitting in front of video games or computers that results in physical problems—not the least of which is obesity.

So—what are we to do as caring adults?

  1. Balance screen time with face time. For every hour in front of a screen, plan an hour of real-life experience with people.
  2. Discuss the downside of video games and social media with kids. They’re not all bad, but kids should know that there is a negative impact to this lifestyle.
  3. Put limits on video game time and be sure kids get up and move around every two hours, for their brains’ sake as well as their bodies’.
  4. Create interest in “real” problem solving exercises, by engaging students in discussing genuine problems around the world. Students can get involved in fixing dilemmas that are real, not virtual.

Any further suggestions from you?  Is this a real problem in our culture?



  1. Jamie O'Donoghue on August 8, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Obviously 12 hours of playing Halo a day is not healthy for you. Unfortunately though we as adults have fostered this kind of obsessive behavior in our kids. 

    Without getting too philosophical, the modern day west has usually always been fascinated and obsessed with something and the percentage of people today, in all ages who actually have real balance in their lives is few and far between.

    It’s like a merry-go-round. The good part though is that when people start to jump off and show others how, it makes it possible for real change to happen.

    Your point in creating interest in ‘real-life’ situations is key for this young generation. Obviously you are doing that with your habitudes course. Sustained and steady growth in “outreaches” like these will go along way to tackling the issue. 

    • Tim Elmore on August 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      Great point, Jamie. Video games may be the fascination of the last 30 years or so but this problem isn’t completely new. Good reminder that it won’t change overnight either – giving students a glimpse of the other choices available may not produce immediate results. Steady growth is definitely the goal!

  2. Matt on August 8, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I feel that this is definitely a real problem in our culture.  Many students are living their lives virtually instead of face-to-face with real people.  This tragic death that you have highlighted here is just one of a number of negative outcomes that this sort of lifestyle is producing.  Jamie, I agree with you, I think we as adults have taught our kids to retreat into the virtual world.  We spend a lot of time there ourselves, even if not on video games.  If kids are spending too much time in front of video games etc, maybe it’s because we aren’t paying any attention to them in the first place, being so wrapped up in our jobs and ourselves.  

    Dr. Elmore, I love your suggestions on how to combat this, but before parents and other adults can put these measures into play we’ll have to become aware that there is a problem with our behavior and selfishness.  Our selfish behavior will not only drive our kids into these virtual obsessions but in the end will probably create another generation of the same sort of behavior as those kids have children of their own.  

    As parents, I think it all starts with prioritizing our lives around our kids, and not around ourselves. 

    Dr. Elmore, thank you for your dedication and work.  It is much appreciated.

    • Tim Elmore on August 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm

      Wow – thanks for adding to the conversation. As difficult as it may be, making a change in ourselves may be the first step to helping our kids or students.

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Kid Dies From a Video Game Marathon