Teens Who Murder Over Loss of Phones, Video Games

While other generations of teens had their own obsessions -- the Beatles, record players, even television -- the difference between them and the teens of today, Aftab said, is that cell phones, video games and computers dominate every part of the teens' existence.

In the case of cell phones, she said, "it's their lifeline." Teens sleep with their phones under their pillows, they take them into the bathroom, sneak them into class.

"It actually has a physical addiction," she said. "They have an adrenaline hit when they get a text message."

In the case of video games, teens tend to form intense relationships with other players through role-play, which blurs the line between reality and fantasy.

"The kids on these sites don't have the friends the kids with cell phones do," she said.

So, when the games are taken away by parents, Aftab said, it's not unusual for the kids to react violently -- and then be surprised when life doesn't "reset" like the game does.

Aftab used the Microsof XBox 360 game "Halo 3" as an example. "You shoot people in the head. That's what you do."

And players earn points for doing so.

But she doesn't blame the video games for causing kids' violent behaviors. She blames them. And their parents, who were unable to get control of their kids.

John Grohol agrees. A non-practicing psychologist and founder of mental health Web site PsychCentral.com, Grohol said teens have been using technology for decades without resorting to murder, suicide or assault in the absence of such.

"It's an example of more about parenting and disciplining ... rather than a technology issue, per se," he said.

He echoed Aftab's sentiments about teens' tendency to build their entire lives around technology that requires active participation.

Taking Responsibility

Grohol said it's hard to tell whether the instances of teens becoming violent after being denied their electronics is a growing problem, or if the media is simply doing a better job of reporting it.

The defense attorneys for 17-year-old Daniel Petric tried to avoid jail time for their client by using the insanity defense after Petric was charged with killing his mother and shooting his father in the face after they took away his "Halo 3" video game.

Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge, who declined to speak about the case to ABCNews.com, rejected the defense's case that Daniel's addiction was to blame for the crime. He was found guilty last month and faces life in prison.

Lorain County Sheriff's Office Det. Sgt. Donald Barker said police were called to the Petrics' Wellington, Ohio, home on Oct. 20, 2007, and found Sue Petric dead on the floor and Mark Petric begging for help.

Barker said Daniel initially told police Mark Petric shot his wife and pointed the gun at him before shooting himself, but Mark Petric survived to tell police it was his son who wielded the gun.

"He told us he had the gun in his pocket," Barker said. "He told them to close their eyes, he had a surprise for them."

Daniel's father, a local pastor who's said he's forgiven his son, testified for the prosecution. Daniel's defense attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment.

As for Gennie Fairfax , she's still working to rebuild her family's life in Buffalo. Her other grandchildren, all younger than Jermea, will not be allowed to carry cell phones until they are much older and can prove their responsibility.

Jermea, Fairfax said, is "still my granddaughter and I love her."

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