Supreme court strikes down California law; says parents should regulate video games

SUREN on July 22, 2011

If you are a parent of a tween or teen, I’m sure you have worried at some point about the level of violence, gore and bloodshed in video games. The games are now so ubiquitous and accessible, on a computer, on an iPad or iPod Touch, or a Smartphone. Apparently, in 2005 the California legislature passed a well-intentioned law, according to this LA Times article, that

would have imposed a $1,000 fine on those who sold or rented a video game to someone under 18 that featured the "killing, maiming, dismembering or sexual assaulting" of a human image and "appeals to deviant or morbid interest." Before the law could take effect, the gaming industry sued, and judges put the law on hold.

The US Supreme Court recently struck down this law in favor of a parent’s right to decide what video games their children can buy. Parry Aftab, a prominent CyberSafety advocate, comments on her blog:

Parents can and should be reviewing ratings on box games they purchase or their children purchase. They should be discussing the ratings and rules with their children and enforcing those rules with spot checks form time to time. (The best rule in parenting is "trust, but verify!") Have a discussion with the parents of their friends and come to a common understanding about which games are okay for them to play and which aren't. (There is power in parental numbers :-)).

Yes, there is technology that can assist parents. For instance, you could use a service like Mobicip to setup parental control restrictions on the iPad, iPod Touch, or your Windows 7 computer to regulate access to games on the App Store and on the web. But it is important to recognize that technology can only go so far and can never replace good parenting. Having the conversation with your child is equally important. As Parry concludes, the decision on what is appropriate for their child

should be made by the family, not the government. Luckily, the US Supreme Court agreed.

Meaning the onus, is on you and me.