Games and the Consequences We Never Predicted

Do you remember “Hold your wee for a Wii?”

In January of 2007, a Sacramento radio station had a contest where several contestants drank as much water as they could without going to the bathroom. The winner would get a brand new Wii- back when the availability of those consoles were rare. I’m sure the radio station never predicted that one of the participants, a 28-year-old mother of three, would die of water intoxication later that day.

I wrote an article about the incident back then, asking youth workers, “Can games get out of hand? Can creativity trump safety?” (I cited a long history of feedback we’ve received on our website including an article that World Magazine wrote about us) I encouraged youth workers to think about games and their unforeseen consequences. The mentality of “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission” seems a little shortsighted when safety is involved.

The Sacramento Bee ran a front page article today– the first I’ve seen on the subject since January of 2007. A Sacramento jury just awared the woman’s family 16.6 million dollars for her death. Here’s a snippet of the article:

A Sacramento jury set an eye-popping standard Thursday on the cost of radio station contests that kill and the resulting loss of a mother’s love and a wife’s companionship.

The tab for Entercom Sacramento LLC came to $16,577,118 in the water-intoxication death of Jennifer Lea Strange in a contest put on by radio station KDND “The End” (107.9 FM).

Such was the award rendered by a Sacramento Superior Court jury of seven men and five women in the trial to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Strange’s survivors. The 28-year-old woman died Jan. 12, 2007, after she participated in KDND’s “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest.

Something to think about.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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