I have been reluctant to react to the whole Kirsty Allsopp tablet smashing news, partly because this sort of parental behaviour often attracts a lot of support and I wouldn’t want to encourage more. Certainly, Allsopp herself appears to feel vindicated by messages she’s received and writes off negative social media as the rantings of entitled gamers. She has suspended her Twitter account to shut them up, perhaps in anticipation of further shock as she compounds the issue by writing about her sons’ reactions in her Daily Mail column.
She admits that her sons were pretty horrified to be the subject of so much media interest. For them, this isn’t about a few trolls who can be ‘suspended’ if they become too tiresome – it’s life changing. Allsopp has given carte blanche for schoolmates, teachers, other parents and just members of the public to comment on their lives, both to their faces and behind their backs. They will probably find themselves with no choice but to defend not just their gaming habits but their mother’s appalling behaviour. Maybe she will welcome this, as she has said they wouldn’t learn about ‘human emotions’ by playing online games. They’ll certainly experience emotion as they daily have to manage the fallout from her oversharing. Was this the lesson she intended? And did she also mean to teach them that if you don’t get what you want you can use your power violently to express your displeasure?
It’s difficult to understand why anyone would give their children a ‘toy’ which is so compelling and then be so angry when they enjoy it. It wasn’t concern about the addictive nature of gaming that motivated Allsopp to smash the tablets, it was the boys’ refusal to obey her. The way she describes it, it isn’t even that clear that they knew they were infringing the rules, as they seem to have carried on playing whilst the adults were occupied elsewhere.
PUBGShe proudly says she has a laissez faire attitude to parenting, letting the boys ‘roam free’ and ‘have access to motorbikes, all sorts of knives, old swords, axes and tools’. She also provided their access to the violent computer games she now so vehemently objects to. Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is a last man standing murder and pillage game for over-16s and Fortnite has similar elements, though players are ‘welcomed’ from age 12. While Allsopp condemns the way these games compel users to keep playing, she has nothing to say on why she chose to let her 10 and 12 year olds have them in the first place. Perhaps she believes children are born with fully functioning ethical and moral standards, able to read their mother’s mind and make sense of a laissez faire approach one minute and awful consequences for disobedience the next.
Her own responsibility towards her children’s understanding, of managing disappointment, timetabling work and pleasure and, most importantly, of coping with their mood, doesn’t even seem to have crossed her mind. Instead, she is proud of having demonstrated to her children that you must be afraid of other people, even those who are supposed to be close to you, take care of you and help you to make sense of the world. She has taught her sons that they need to be wary of even the closest family because if you get it wrong they will hurt you and damage your belongings.

Well done, Kirstles. Good move.

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