The Parents Television Council in the News

Vero Beach Press-Journal

January 11, 2006



Guest columnist: How we unwittingly are raising trained killers

guest columnist

January 11, 2006

It is no exaggeration to say that video games can help train people to kill. Ask the people we trust most, the U. S. States military.

The military succeeds at the difficult task of getting people to overcome their natural barriers to committing unthinkable acts of violence. It uses video games to train our servicemen and women for the rigors of combat.

The same games for children reward cop-killing, auto theft, and drug dealing. An underage child should not have the unilateral discretion to walk into a store and purchase such a product. This is common sense.

Yet currently, a 10-year-old could purchase a Mature (M-rated) or Adult Only (AO-rated) video game. There are voluntary guidelines that tell retailers not to sell these products to children, but they have been a failure due to their voluntary nature.

A propoal (SB 492) by state Sen. Alex Diaz, R-Miami, would basically take those guidelines and make them law. Despite the failure of their voluntary guidelines, the multibillion-dollar video game industry is fighting this legislation as it did (unsuccessfully) in Illinois, Michigan and California.

The evidence is conclusive: Countless independent studies confirm that repeated exposure to graphically sexual, violent and profanity-laced video games has a harmful and long-term affect on children.

Most recently, researchers at Michigan State University used functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to observe which areas of the brain are stimulated when a subject plays violent video games.

Researchers concluded, "there is a causal link between playing the first-person shooting game in our experiment and brain-activity pattern that are considered as characteristic for aggressive cognitions and affects ... Violent video games frequently have been criticized for enhancing aggressive reactions such as aggressive cognitions, aggressive affects or aggressive behavior. On a neurobiological level we have shown the link exists."

If these games are marketed to and manufactured for adults as the industry insists, then their sale to minors should be restricted. This solution protects our children without interfering with the rights of adults. We place similar restrictions on the sale of firearms, tobacco, alcohol and pornography. This is no different.

Video game retailers have failed to police themselves. A year ago, the Parents Television Council conducted a secret shopper in several cities across the country and found that more than 50 percent of stores selected were willing to sell M-rated video games to children under 16 without asking for identification. The Parents Television Council also polled parents and found that 40 percent were unaware that there are no legal restrictions preventing children from obtaining these games.

The children of Florida are being bombarded with sexual and violent images through video games. The more than 67,000 members of the Parents Television Council in Florida are calling for the passage of SB 492 to give parents another tool to protect their children from such harmful influences. Florida must follow the lead of Illinois, Michigan and California and show that we care about our children as much as they do theirs. Parents should contact their legislators about this bill to urge a quick passage.

Remember that our children are watching!

Butler, of Naples, is Florida Regional Director for the Parents Television Council, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. E-mail him at Visit the organization's Web site,