Young men are getting so caught up in gaming consoles they are lashing out at children, sometimes with deadly consequences.
A paediatrician says all too often she treats children who have been struck by a male caregiver because they interrupted a game.
Mikara Reti was just five months old when he was hit so hard he died and his liver was almost split in two.
Trent Hapuku, 23, was found guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced this month at the High Court in Napier to nine years in prison.
Hapuku had been left alone with his partner's child in a Flaxmere sleepout in January last year. Prosecution lawyers argued Hapuku was intent on beating his high score in a PlayStation game called Scarface.
When the toddler interrupted the game, Hapuku struck him so hard he died from his injuries. But rather than rushing the child to hospital, Hapuku continued playing. When Mikara's mother returned she found her partner playing PlayStation and holding Mikara over his left shoulder.
The mother saw her child was pale, quiet and sleepy so drove him to hospital, but medical staff were unable to resuscitate the baby.
Dr Eleanor Carmichael, from Waikato Hospital, said she frequently sees cases where a young man has abused a child because a game was disturbed. "You sit down, take a bit of P, start your PlayStation game, the baby starts to cry, you're in a hurry to pick it up and settle it down before you lose your place."
New boyfriends moving in with their partner and children without parenting experience can also prove dangerous.
For some men, this can motivate them to turn their life around, but for others they struggle to bond with the children, she said.
The Ministry of Social Development has developed parenting centres to teach the young men to care for the children, but the challenge lies in convincing the men to attend.
"All we need is for our young people to buy it," she said.
At Hapuku's sentencing, Justice Forrest Miller said far too often a woman's new partner fails to bond with her children.
Mikara's mother, Jamie Reti, read a statement at court in which she said she would never forgive herself for trusting Hapuku with her son.
At the time of Mikara's death, Reti was pregnant to Hapuku and has since given birth. Their son, Elijah, is now nine months old, but the family have cut connections with Hapuku.
- © Fairfax NZ News