Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

November 9, 2010 -

Nationally syndicated columnist Esther Cepeda says something that most columnists would never say: let's blame the people that are not doing their jobs - the parents. The former first-grade school teacher notes in her latest column that kids - that is, very young children - tend to get access to violent video games, movies, and television from parents who are either too weak-willed or too lazy to pay attention to what their kids are doing.

Here is the most salient part of her column:

"The other day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over a California law that would impose $1,000 fines on stores that sell violent video games to people under 18. The law is absurd on its face. Who do you think pays for junior's "Grand Theft Auto?" And how could the tide of free to almost-free violent video games widely available on cell phones, smart phones, iPad-like tablets and through free websites accessible via any desktop or laptop — also usually provided by parents — ever be stemmed? Who would you fine?

Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that common sense should allow the government to help parents protect kids from games featuring depictions of "gratuitous, painful, excruciating, torturing violence upon small children and women." In a perfect world, maybe. But in a perfect world, parents would have the common sense not to ignore lurid content while giving kids the money, the car ride, the nod to the check-out clerk or the blind eye to what happens over at friends' houses necessary for these games to be such a hit."

Read the rest at App.com

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Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

Today I stopped by GameStop to reserve a game and in line ahead of me was a mom and son there to get Call of Duty: Black Ops. She looked to be in her late 40s at least and he didn't even look 14. They were talking about buying the special collector's edition ($150, comes with a radio controlled car and other extras). Jr. there certainly wasn't coming up with the money on his own.

The CA law is just a waste of time & money, as this is how most kids get the games (or from an older sibling's collection).

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

 I work in and around the elctronics of a Wal-Mart and we're actually required to take the money for the game from the parent and to hand the game to the parent.  Whenever it's mature I always ask the parent, "you know this is rated Mature for this content right?" and the answer is generally, yeah, I know".  I can't tell you how many 8 year olds have gotten GTA because the parent stood there, was informed what the game contained, and bought the thing for their kid anyways.  I've had people that looked like they were probably 20 something that I haven't sold games to because they didn't have ID's on them to prove it, but these little kids come in and have no troubles because their parents buy it.  It's nice to hear somebody outside of the gaming community saying the parents should take some responsibility for a change.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

"I can't tell you how many 8 year olds have gotten GTA because the parent stood there, was informed what the game contained, and bought the thing for their kid anyways."

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. The parent has decided that GTA is not going to be harmful for his kid. My daughter was playing GTA when she was 5. True, I didn't buy it 'for her', and true, she only played it by walking around and driving around very carefully, and she got quite upset if she had a minor fender-bender, but she was playing it.

You cannot just assume that a parent is being lazy by buying a super-violent video game for his child. There could be a lot of reasons why it might be an appropriate thing to do.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

Exactly.  8-year-olds don't walk into GameStop unattended with $60 in their pockets.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

The exhaustive list of "weak willed or lazy" I think does an excellent job at demonstrating this columnist's inability to envision a world where people have different opinions than her own.

I wonder how that makes her look to other professional writers.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

I'm not really sure what you're talking about.  While I see the phrase "weak-willed or lazy", I don't see an "exhaustive list" anywhere, and neither do I see the author expressing disbelief that people disagree with her.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

I think her assumption is that parents that buy violent/sexual/M-rated (pick at least one) games for their kids are "weak-willed or lazy" which is utter bullsh*t.

I played Wolfenstein 3D with my father and brothers when I was 5 years old. My mother was fine with it.

Within a year, I was playing Doom with both parents' knowledge and permission.

Two or three years later I was playing GoldenEye 007 on the N64 with my brothers and a good friend at that time. We kicked @$$ up and down every mission and multiplayer map. My parents knew and were fine with it.

By Ms. Cepeda's assumption, my parents were either weak-willed and easy to convince, or they were lazy and didn't care. Both wrong. They knew, and they gave their approval.

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"When the Dream Of Zeal revives, the rage of the ages ignites into an Eternal Inferno.


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"When the Zealous Dream revives, the
rage of the ages ignites an Eternal
Inferno that consumes the world...
"

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

Bear in mind the phrase "weak-willed or lazy" is GP's, not hers.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

Exactly.

To the point though, from what I understand from this article, nobody is blaming a parent buying a violent game for a child that can handle a violent game without it melting brain nor are they calling parents who allow their kids to play violent games 'bad parents'.

I believe the key people this kind of talk is aimed at is the ones who purchase said games for their children or allow them to play them at home or at a friend's house and then point a finger of blame at those video games being the fault while acting as if they had no idea such violent imagery was being shown despite a rating and description being clearly visible on the game upon purchase. The front of the disc even has the rating permantely scribed unto it, so there really is no excuse for the parent not knowing what their child is playing UNLESS they don't monitor them in the slightest.

"

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

 I think she's over generalizing.  Some parents do assess the games and their kid's general world outlook and go understand that their kid is intelligent and knows what's going on, plus, you had the added benefit of having gotten to play those games with your Dad and your brothers and help contextualize it for you.  A lot of kids dont really game with their parents, or their parents just flat out don't pay attention.  As for weak-willed and lazy parents, they do exist.  I had a parent the other day that I was helping decide what game to get for her brat of a 7 year old who was right there, and she wanted to get him something fun, engaging and age appropriate.  I was trying to push Little Big Planet or Mod Nation Racers and the kid was just going nuts because he wanted COD.  They argued about it while I stood there akwardly for 5 minutes and she finally just relented and got it for him.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

What about a parent who is a.o.k. with their 14 year old son playing a game like COD: Special Ops? I mean i can understand the article in regards to a parent buying their 7 year old a copy of GTA 4 but a blanket statement that any parent buying any M rated video game for their child of any age is absolutly rediculous.

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

 Unless i missed something i don't really think it's meant to be a blanket claim for all children of all ages; Afterall this is the opinion of an elementary school teacher. So i think the claim is much more directed to kids under the age of 10 if anything. In most cases, any child young enough that it would be considered by most as a bad idea to let them play violent or sexually explicit games would also be so young they would need a parent involved in a purchase. The only ones who can buy the game all on their own are those with their own money and their own way to store; and that usually means the child is actually a teenager and that's where the line between what is and is not appropriate gets blurred.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

I still don't get why parents should be 'blamed' for their decision to let little Emily play Mature-rated games. Is it the parents right to decide what their children play, or isn't it?

If Emily is a mature girl who is well aware that real life violence is bad, and who can tell the difference between a game and reality, why shouldn't parents let the kid play whatever game she wants?

The parents are not necessarily failing to do their jobs by allowing a child to play GTA. They are merely making one of the choices open to them as parents. This assumption - that allowing Emily to play GTA is always the wrong choice - is doing precisely what the Jack Thompsons of this world want to do - attempting to take the decision away from parents and put it in some governing body's hands.

All this talk of laziness and bad parenting comes from a desire to control what other people do with their freedoms. Underneath all that hand-wringing, I see a shadow of fascism.

There is nothing wrong or bad with a parent deciding to let his/her kid play a violent videogame. If parents are to be truly free to make decisions for their kids, then making what others consider to be the 'wrong' decision should be SUPPORTED, not decried. Otherwise, all our talk of freedom is just hypocrisy, and we should just put on the uniforms, start flying the flags, burning the books and imprisoning the undesirables.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

 The issue is not with parents deciding to get these kinds of games for their kids, but parents who buy these games but disregard the decision entirely. They don't think about what their kids are playing at all; they just buy whatever their kids want and don't give it a second though. They never bother to think "is this game to violent for my child", or "Does this game contain sex/nudity"... It's one thing if you KNOW what you are buying and decide that your child is mature enough, but its another thing entirely if your not thinking about your child. That is neglectful and lazy parenting...

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

Part of my point is that there's a lot of assuming going on on that point. Do we 'know' that these parents exist, or do we just assume that because kids get violent video games, their parents must be lazy? I suspect the latter. I suspect that most kids who get to play violent video games have parents who have monitored them and decided that the games are harmless for their kids. That's NOT lazy parenting.

Until I see studies that show that a lot of kids who play violent video games aren't being monitored by their parents, I have to assume that this idea that there are vast numbers of lazy parents out there is a fantasy.

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

I think it's more about blaming the parents who deride these games and call for them to be banned because they don't want to take the responsibility of monitoring what their kids do.

Also, is that a mainstream reporter actually being reasonable about video games?  Zwuh?! 

Re: Columnist: Blame Parents for Kids Getting Videogames

Awesome!

 
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