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Protecting Our Children

Are You Checking Your Kids' Video Game Magazines?

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

I see so many problems caused by seemingly innocent exposure of inappropriate materials to children. A parent just the other day shared with me that she found newspaper ads of teens and women in underwear neatly cut out and stored in her son's drawer. On further checking, she found he was into pornography.

Yes, his entry into pornography was just the newspaper ads. That isn't the first time I have heard that. Parents in today's world need to strongly teach or do the following:

  • Role play with their children about how to walk away from the bad story, the bad picture and the bad joke by the time they are age six. Make sure teens have decided ahead of time how they will handle the situations that they inevitably will encounter;
  • Before children turn eight, teach them how quickly addiction can take hold of them;
  • Teach that to have a sacred, wonderful experience with marriage, that they need to hold their curiosity until they are married, i.e. they need to avoid looking at swimsuit pictures, lingerie pictures, etc.;
  • Check thoroughly about what is coming into their homes, i.e. television, videos, movies, video games, magazines, etc.;
  • Establish ongoing conversations with their children about what they are experiencing and what they are hearing on the playground, etc.; and
  • Avoid anger when discussing any of the above.

The American Family Association issued a parental advisory in their AFA Journal (May 2005, p. 7). Video games are one of the most popular pastimes for children and teens. If parents assume that the magazines promoting these games are harmless, they are mistaken.

The folks at AFA received complaints from parents, prompting them to randomly purchase some popular video game magazines. They purchased GamePro, Electronic Gaming, GameStar and Surge. They did not like what they found:

Inappropriate advertising: They found advertisements, apart from the ads for the games themselves, which were highly sexualized. Electronic Gaming, for example, carried an ad for a website that allows visitors to download computer “wallpaper” with nude women.

Inappropriate demo discs: Some magazines include a free demo CD-ROM, with demonstrations of new video games. The current issue of GameStar provides such a demo, which discerning parents would find inappropriate. I won't mention just what is seen in the demo. Be advised that it involved not only scantily-clad women, but other inappropriate images. A “Parental Advisory” from the American Advisory Association strongly urged parents to not allow their children to preview free demos. Excessive violence was also included in some cases.

Inappropriate artwork: “All of the game magazines reviewed by AFA Journal contained artwork that was inappropriate, although some magazines were worse than others. GameStar contains pornographic photos. Images and text were sometimes sexual in nature, sometimes gory, demonic or occultic, or just downright weird.

Inappropriate advice: GamePro provides readers tips on how to search the Internet for free pornography. It isn't that hard to find pornography on the Internet, but youth don't need encouragement to do so.

I recommend that you politely point out to store managers that these magazines are harmful to children. In addition, parents who want to protect their children will have to be alert to the poisons found in these and other magazines and not only avoid having them in their homes, but also need to teach their children to avoid them elsewhere.

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