Rated 'A' for 'Assault': Video
Games and Your Kids
Courtesy of BreakPoint Online
with Charles Colson
Earlier this week, Mark Earley told you about the dangers
associated with some of most-sought-after items on your kids'
Christmas list. If the pornography industry has its way, that
state-of-the-art cell phone will be used for more than talking
And the problems are not limited to presents that our kids can
put in their backpacks. Some of the worst stuff may find its way
into your living room or your kid's bedroom without you being
the wiser. I'm talking, of course, about video games.
Concerns about video games are not new. Such concerns forced
the industry to adopt a rating system for its products: rating
from "E" for "everyone" to "M" for
"mature." The problem is that the outfit doing the rating,
the Entertainment Software Review Board (ESRB), is a subsidiary
of the video game industry.
Little wonder, then, that the media watchdog group Media Wise
gives the ratings an "F" for accuracy and retailers
a "D" for their enforcement efforts. Combine that with
what the group calls a "widening gap between what kids do
and what parents know," and you have a system that is "beyond
This does not mean that you should not let your children play
video games, at least in moderation. It does mean that you need
to do your homework before you head to the mall. And if the rating
system is "beyond repair," where do you turn for information?
Fortunately, groups like Media Wise can at least tell you what
to avoid. The group recently issued a Video Game Report which
listed twelve games that parents should "keep out of the
hands of their children and teenagers."
In one of the dirty dozen, "Stubbs the Zombie," your
child assumes the role of a revenge-seeking zombie. And the zombie
not only kills anyone who gets in its way, it also cuts open their
skulls and eats their brains.
Then there's the "Grand Theft Auto" series. As the
title suggests, the game is played from the point of view of a
car thief. But the fantasy does not stop there: Money and points
are gained by causing as much mayhem as possible, including running
people over and murdering city officials.
I agree with Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D) when he calls
these games "an assault on the value structure and discipline
of our society." Like him, I fear that "much of what
we do" as parents to raise good kids is "undercut by
the worst of these games."
Neither Sen. Lieberman nor I is saying anything so extreme as
playing "Grand Theft Auto" will lead your kid to run
people over with the family car. We are merely pointing out the
obvious: What we see influences how we think and feel. If this
were not true, there would be no advertising industry. And besides,
in our media-soaked culture, there is a whole range of alternatives
that we can choose instead of these games.
So, before you pull out your credit card, ask yourself how much
you know about what you plan on putting under the tree this Christmas:
Is it the stuff of wise parenting or an assault on everything
you hold dear?
From BreakPoint, Copyright 2005 Prison Fellowship
with Chuck Colson" is a radio ministry of
Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission of Prison
Fellowship, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, DC, 20041-0500."
Heard on more than 1000 radio stations nationwide. For more information
on the ministry of Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship visit their
web site at http://www.breakpoint.org.
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