Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Childs play?

The BBC has reported that the government is asking for evidence for a new study on the effect of violent computer games on children.

The study will be led by Psychologist Tanya Byron which was launched at a school in Barking, Essex.

She was joined at launch by Schools Secretary Ed ‘Blinky’ Balls. It was also reported that Culture Secretary James Purnell attended although the photographic evidence is still being studied to confirm its authenticity.

Tanya Byron explained that "Video gaming and the internet themselves are a very positive and important part of children's and young children's growing up and learning and development. But it is also about saying where are the risks?"

Responding to the launch Paul Jackson, of Elspa (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers' Association), said the body had already met with Dr Byron and would work with the government on the review.

But he said the industry was "too often blamed for everything from obesity to youth violence", adding that "It is just not true and it's not appropriate."

Which I suspect is true and like certain forms of imported popular music and particular items of clothing there seems to be a bit of a ‘moral panic’ being whipped up over this.

That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be controls. As with films the British Board of Film Classification provides age certification as deemed appropriate for games.

Now I’m sure that the report will say that young children shouldn’t have access to violent video games.

Why money needs to be spent on this research when its conclusions are inevitable is beyond me.
But what is less predictable is what the report will suggest should be done about it. Being linked to the government it will probably advise the establishment of a new quango , the employment of out-reach workers and copies of approved games being handed out at Sure Start centres.

You can imagine, Grand Theft Announcement III, World of Borecraft, Sham and Tax.
Doom probably doesn’t need a name change though.

But surely it should really all be down to parental responsibility.

Simple as that.

As the responsible adult you should be aware of what your children are playing or looking at to ensure that you deem it appropriate.

For example who would let a six-year-old play Grand Theft Auto? If you know the content of the game and you allow your child to play it you are being wilfully neglectful. If you don’t take the trouble to find out what the content is then you are failing in one of your responsibilities.

I don’t doubt for a moment that some games would have a damaging effect on young children. I would hate for a little one to have their dreams infiltrated by some of the images from the game play.

But I suspect that the young children who are allowed to play these games may already be living in a home environment that is more damaging to their stability and wellbeing than the effects of the games themselves.

If the parents don’t give a damn about this, what do they give a damn about?

I do have to disclose a bit of an interest here as I’ve got plenty 18+ games myself.

You really can’t beat a bit of blasting, shooting and hacking and slashing in the evening. 1173 Panzers destroyed, 392 bf109’s brought down and several Wehrmacht Regiments slaughtered to date, oh and the Zombies, mustn’t forget them…. ‘Brains’….

But I would no more let my children play these games than I would sit them down to watch a grindhouse / slasher movie.

And I don’t need blinky or photoshop to tell me that!


kate said...

Your so right ..parental responsibility is key. I play lots of games that aren't suitable for my kids ...the kids are left to pokemon and bratz and nintendogs.
As for films my 13 year old says he wants to see the film "sawiv" i laughed at him he knew i wouldn't let him watch but he still asked.

Caroline Hunt said...

Preaching to the choir here :)

(although my technological ineptness probably means that link didn't work)

But indeed the key is stopping parents buying 18 rated games for their children. I've always found it shocking when I'm buying games to see what parents are buying for their young kids.

Wolfie said...

Agreed. Mind you what has contributed to this problem is decades of successive governments attempting to sideline or override parental responsibility. I see a connection here with the smacking debate and advertisements during children's programming, all these have contributed to the malaise. Its no good pressing parents to take control after binding their hands, there needs to be a coordinated shift in policy across the board.

Mountjoy said...

Parental responsibility it is, I agree. Although technically called 'parents', I see plenty around for whom that title is only in name only. Many do not have the first idea about parenting!

Phil A said...

Yep - Down to the parents. But so much is really.

Mind you - you can't beat a bit of therapeutic monster killing. Doom, a classic.