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D&D: Lessons from a Media Panic

Dungeons and Dragons was once accused of leading children to Satanism, but today the game looks more like a solution to a problem plaguing modern parenting.

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D&D: Lessons from a Media Panic

Produced by Bonnie Bertram and Meral Agish
Original Release
April 17, 2016
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Dungeons and Dragons was once accused of leading children to Satanism, but today the game looks more like a solution to a problem plaguing modern parenting.

Dungeons & Dragons debuted in 1974 and had moved from a cult classic to a mainstream hit by the early 1980s. Millions of kids around the world were gathering around tables and going on imaginary adventures set by the Dungeon Master as part of this role playing game. But a string of murder-suicides that involved kids who played the game brought a new focus, and critics, many of them conservative Christians, thought the game was an invitation to devil worship and violence.

Today, the game is still a popular pastime and instead of it triggering a moral panic, it’s considered by many parents and sociologists to be the kind of activity that encourages kids to gather in real time, and use their imagination. In short, proponents say that D&D playing is the kind of activity that encourages positive social engagement and a preferable alternative to screen time.

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