The image of a toddler sitting in a white blanket, wrapped in a blue blanket, and playing a game with her stuffed animal is one of the iconic images of the children’s game, The Imitation Game.
The original game, invented in the 1940s by American psychologist John C. Lilly, is still a popular game in many countries and popular in the United States.
But for some, playing the game at home with children is not an appropriate activity.
ABC News’ Kelly Brown reports.
The video game was developed to be played by parents, and the children are usually supervised by an adult, said Mark Barden, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“The idea is that you’re putting a little child in a world that’s more realistic than the real world,” he said.
The game can be played with kids and adults of all ages.
The kids can also play with other kids, as long as they aren’t getting too close to each other.
But Barden said the original game is no longer a safe activity for young children.
“It’s no longer the game that parents are playing with their kids,” he told ABC News.
Barden is one who has tried to make it safer for kids.
The first time he played the game with his two-year-old son, he found that it didn’t seem to affect him.
But after several tries, he tried the game again and again, and he still didn’t feel like the game was safe.
He tried to play it with his younger son, who he thought was too old to understand.
But when Barden brought the game to the attention of his pediatrician, he was told it wasn’t safe for the little boy.
He told ABC that while he doesn’t think the game is dangerous, he doesn’s feel the need to explain why.
“I’ve seen so many times when kids play it, and they feel comfortable,” he added.
Baren, who also teaches at the Stern School, said he is also concerned about the age of the players.
“If you are talking to a four-year old and they’re playing with a six-year child, I would say, ‘Well, you need to be careful, and I don’t think this is safe for children under the age,” he explained.
He believes the games are not appropriate for children younger than age six, because they can lead to a lot of problems.
“They’re a lot like playing a video game in which you have a controller and you have the ability to control what you do,” Baren said.
“And they have no real socialization.”
Baren is concerned that these games can lead kids to engage in risky behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse, and also lead them to engage more in risky behavior in general.
“When you have these games, they can be very, very dangerous,” he continued.
“In fact, it is quite the opposite of what a lot children should be doing.”
The first step to making the game safer for young kids was to find a better way to teach it.
Bens research found that the original imitators were taught in the home with the goal of building their vocabulary and self-esteem, and then after they left the house they would be re-trained and re-played until they understood the rules.
Bins research found it was possible to teach the imitator game to children through videos and books.
But he said it’s not enough to make the game safe for all children.
He said it is important to focus on teaching children about the importance of moderation in their play.
“Parents need to get out of the house, not only for the sake of their children, but also for the benefit of their own children, because if you don’t make it safe, it’s going to become a problem for them,” he stressed.
“Children are going to do things that are not safe for them.
That’s why we need to talk to them about it and make it a safe environment for them.”
Barden told ABC he hopes to see the game become more safe for young people.
“We’ve been in the game for so long, we’re getting to a point where the games need to evolve and need to learn to have a little more empathy for the other players,” he noted.
“But I don’s think there’s any doubt that we need a little bit more of an understanding of why they’re doing what they’re going to.”
This story is part of the ABC News Health series “The End of the Imitation.”
To comment on this story, visit ABC News Parents.