I’m sure for those of us who gifted a NintendoTM Wii this holiday season to our kids are enjoying the time together and experiencing great family entertainment.
But, once again, the “use of fire as a toy” has concern for those of us who are engaged in kids’ fire safety.
The game as described by Dave Thier, contributor to Forbes Magazine, “...is a game where you burn things in your fireplace. Burning yields coins, coins yield things, things are set on fire. It’s the basic reward loop of any number of casual games – surprisingly addictive, mysteriously enchanting. New items respond to the flames in novel ways, unlocking new combos and products, and you move your way to the end.”
At a website promoting Little InfernoTM it encourages the worst of behaviors: “Congratulations on your new Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace! Throw your toys into the fire, and play with them as they burn. Stay warm in there. It’s getting cold outside!” They go on. “Burn flaming logs, screaming robots, credit cards, batteries, exploding fish, unstable nuclear devices, and tiny galaxies. An adventure that takes place almost entirely in front of a fireplace - about looking up up up out of the chimney, and the cold world just on the other side of the wall.”
Some will say that it’s just a game! True - and many will treat it as such. But there is an innate curiosity to fire.
Some insight comes from the data at National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). An average 90 people per year die and another 750 are injured in 7400 home fires relating to “playing with fire” cause and determinations.
Public fire and life safety educators spend countless hours teaching children that “fire is a tool and not a toy” as part of a far-reaching fire and life safety education curriculum program. They tell students that matches should not be touched and to “tell an adult” to store them in a safe place.
Youth firesetters intervention specialists have worked for years with children with tendencies to firesetting. No matter the motive, these behaviors are hard to change and require long-term treatment. It is so much more rewarding to encourage appropriate behavior in our youth and away from the potentially harmful “playing with fire” related behaviors.
Let’s not even have the conversation about what objects burn better than others or what type of immediate life-threatening hazards are produced through off-gassing.
Take the time to call or write Nintendo and ask them to reconsider Little Inferno. Ask them to reinforce and support the efforts of parents, teachers, other caregivers, and NFPA to teach children fire safety.
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