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Barack Obama: 'Turn off the video games and pick up a book'

US president encourages parents to get kids reading

US President Barack Obama has used his Fathers' Day national address to ask parents to encourage their kids to "turn off the video games and pick up a book".


Re-purposed as a blog post called "Taking the Time to be a Dad" on the White House website, Obama discussed his own, father-less childhood. He also admitted that when it came to his two daughters, there have been times when "work kept me away from my family too often, and most of the parenting duties fell to Michelle".

Obama's address kicked off the 'Year of Strong Fathers, Strong Families' programme - set up to "do something about father absence". And it was during the promotion of this new idea that the President pointed the finger in gaming's direction.

"We know that every father has a personal responsibility to do right by their kids - to encourage them to turn off the video games and pick up a book; to teach them the difference between right and wrong; to show them through our own example the value in treating one another as we wish to be treated. And most of all, to play an active and engaged role in their lives," he said.

"But all of us have a stake in forging stronger bonds between fathers and their children. All of us can support those who are willing to step up and be father figures to those children growing up without a dad. And that's what the Year of Strong Fathers, Strong Families is all about."

He repeated the point in an Fathers' Day-themed op/ed in People magazine, where he wrote: "And every father can encourage his child to turn off the video games and pick up a book; to study hard and stay in school. Every father can pack a healthy lunch for his son, or go outside and play ball with his daughter."

It's not the first time Obama has discussed his nation's gaming habits. In 2009, he encouraged parents to get their kids to "step away from the video games and spend more time playing outside", whilst last year he raised concerns about gaming and technology "distracting" kids during their eduction.

And back in 2008, he asked the US to prevent video games from "raising your kids" - with a respectful nod to GTA IV.

However, he can see some upsides to gaming, too. Ten months ago he publicly applauded a scheme created to help US children forge a career in video games design.

[ SOURCE: Via Spong ]