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Protecting Our Children

Have You Checked your Video Games?  

By JoAnn Hamilton
October 26, 2005

"Thank you for encouraging us, in your talk yesterday, to go home and watch all of every video game our children are playing. It was so helpful when you said, ‘Decide if those are the values, the attitudes and the language you want your children to have.'" A mother said this on my phone a short time ago.


She went on: "I went home and was amazed at what I had in my home. One video game about a little dinosaur had language I would never want my child to use."


She said, "My son came to me after teaching him that everything that went into his mind would influence how he thought and acted and he said, ‘Mom, we better take my new game back to the store.'"


After checking what was in her home, she took many of her video games back to the store.


I have mentioned before in these articles that "Grand Theft Auto" was the No. 1 video game sold to teens a couple years ago. To win, the player had to kill a policeman, steal a car, pick up a prostitute, be immoral, kill her, hide the body and return the car without being caught. Is that what we want replaying in our youths' minds?  


And now "Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas" is labeled an ultra-violent video game that shamelessly celebrates brutality, according to Adam R. Holz, Associate Editor of Plugged IN Magazine. Holz wrote, "If a teen wants to sell drugs, assassinate foes, leave innocent civilians bleeding on the sidewalk or chill out with a prostitute, (this game) has his fix." And now the game has been taken off the market because it included "undisclosed pornographic content that was unlocked by a hacker in the Netherlands. Now any teen with the inside scoop can find it as well. A modification hit the Internet in June, enabling young players to access explicit sexual material."


Parents need to know that Rockstar Games initially alleged that the hidden scenes had come from third-party programmers, and then later admitted the illicit content had been there all along. The game is supposedly being retooled, but how many of you have purchased it before this withdrawal? Owners of the game admitted it should have had an AO (Adults Only) rating.


I've mentioned before that "Halo 2" has graphics that appeal to teens and adults, but I am hearing that not only are young people and young adults staying up all night to play, but that religious groups are using it on activity nights! You can find an evaluation of this game in Focus on the Family's teen magazine, Plugged In, March 2005, p. 4. The author, Holz, says, "slaughter remains the name of the game. ... Body parts and carcasses litter the battlefield. . . (and it) promises to keep teens in ‘kill' mode for extended periods of time. Experts are calling the addictive ‘ Halo 2' the king of all first-person shooters (games that put the player behind the eyes of the gunman). The Indiana School of Medicine and Iowa State University report in this article that it causes damage to the brain.


My message today? You cannot count on any rating put on a video game. Ask yourself, "Do you know what is entering the minds of your children/youth as they play their video games? Will they end up with your values?"


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