Does violence and sex portrayed in video games have a negative impact on children? Well, first and foremost it depends on the child. Some children are more mature than others, it’s a fact. However, children are impressionable and not until their late teens do they truly understand who they are and what they stand for. However, there is no way (not do I advocate there should be) to screen children for maturity, thus the best we can do is have a rating system such as provided by ESRB. Is it good? Well actually the system is great, it’s worked for movie theaters since 1968. Unfortunately, something this country has seemed to forget is that any system is only as good as the parents and there enforcement of rules. No rating system is worth a dime if you the parent don’t adhere to it. Perhaps that is why children don’t get into PG-13 and R rated movies, because unless the parent gives explicit permission to being there, the theater is not letting little Johnny in. Surely we don’t need or want to solely rely on corporations or the government to tell us what our children should and shouldn’t be doing, do we? But it seems that is the case. While parents are reluctant to let their 11-year old to go see the latest horror flick (perhaps because of the social stigma associated with everyone else in the theater seeing you bring little Johnny into the theater), they seem to have a much more laissez-faire attitude towards gaming. This is undoubtedly because the parents of younger children today associate video games with Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. They fail to realize that video gaming has evolved into Grand Theft Auto and Gears of War, to keep up with the increasingly older video gamer demographic. For the most part video gamers, such as I, are not going to go killing everyone because we digitally destroy in a video game. Yes, I am sure that there have been rampages induced by video gamers, but the game is not the root cause, more than likely the individual had deeper issues. Shame on us as a society for not seeing the tell-tale warning signs, but to blame video games is ridiculous. On top of that, to punish the majority of us gamers who are sane, for the crime of a very, very few is as about as un-American as you can get.
But I digress, back to the parents. I cannot tell you how many times I get onto Xbox Live, load up a Mature title, and within minutes I am in a game lobby filled with obviously prepubescent kids. Where the hell are the parents? I am a parent, and it is not rocket science to look at the front of a video game box and see the large “M” for mature. Wake up. We, the parents, seem to do quite okay with movie ratings, what is making it hard for video games? Parenting, not video games, is at the heart of this problem. Back to my earlier question, do we really want the government to do a parent’s job? I pray the answer is NO!!!