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Written by:  Odile Fredericks
Date: June 28, 2011

The U.S. Supreme court just dealt parents a blow. In a 7-2 vote Monday, the nation's highest court said California's ban on the rental or sale of violent video games to children was unconstitutional.

The California law would have prohibited the sale or rental of violent games to anyone under 18. Now that that's out the window, parents are on their own protecting their children from mindless violence. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion for the court, said states have power to protect children from harm but that power does not include restricting ideas. The U.S. has a history of restricting children from seeing sexual conduct, but we have no tradition of restricting kids' access to depictions of violence, Scalia said as reported on WRAL. And, he noted that many popular children's fairy tales, like Hansel and Gretel, illustrate violence.

Hello!!! Any parent can tell you that there's a difference between reading a book about someone baking a witch in an oven or the big bad wolf falling into a pot of boiling water and actually seeing it enacted in front of your screen. I should know. I've had to throw away a video based on a classic children's tale that my son loved to read but was disturbed watching on a screen. The video was "James and the Giant Peach," and my son wasn't happy until he watched me throw it away in the garbage. Watching it caused him so many nightmares, and for a while, he was even afraid to go to the movies with his friends for fear of seeing something horrible.

My kids are avid gamers, but I do not let them play violent games, like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which my sister and brother-in-law warned me about two years ago. They allowed their teen boys to get it, and their home—at least their basement—was turned into a virtual horrific battlefield. The game also affected their teens' brains, forcing to make unthinkable choices. The point of the game is to take down Russian terrorists, but players need to allow a slaughter of innocents at the airport in order to win the war.

As my brother-in-law explained, "It glorifies war in ways we as parents find hard to accept. To get in good with the terrorists (and win), you have to sell part of your soul."

Do video games cause violence? I suspect so, but in any case, exposing children to a virtual reality where violence is mundane is something that I will work to protect my children from. And my job just got harder yesterday, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court.


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