Thursday, July 7, 2011

Supreme Court Overturns Law Against Violent Video Game Sales to Kids - What it Means to Families


Editor's Note:  When I first heard about this shortly before the 4th of July weekend, I thought it was another reason to celebrate America advocating for our children.  After all, isn't that what makes the USA so great, that our youths' lives are treasured like the most precious of jewels?  Then I read the newspaper more carefully and realized that actually the exact opposite was true.
My first grader at the 4th of July Bike Parade
Vintage Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

Indeed, we've got some real bad news for moms and dads here.  Especially if you're like me and you're worried about your kids playing with (or merely being possibly exposed to) violent and inappropriate video games.  

As a mommy blogger I've had first-hand experience on the hi tech and gaming front.  I've reviewed and worked with family-friendly video games including the Facebook-based game A Better World by ToonUps and others.  I am a Nancy Drew AmbassadHer for HerInteractive too.  Most importantly, as a journalist, I'm always looking for entertainment and technologies that promote good values.  Further, I'm a Certified Online Mom, and as you may already know, I'm passionate about being an involved parent when it comes to safe technology use on the Internet and offline for kids

So what's got my feathers all riled up?  In case you haven't already heard the U.S. Supreme Court -- before going into summer recess at the end of June -- has declared unconstitutional a California law banning sales of violent video games to children.  Note, as you read on and think about its impact on children:  the government routinely uses the word "recess" to describe the summer vacation of America's elected and appointed officials, including the judges of the highest court.

Shockingly as I view it, the 7-2 ruling in this case has been viewed as a win-win for video game makers and sellers.  The video gaming industry's argument: the existing voluntary ESRB ratings system, which is in already place nationwide, is "an adequate screen for parents to judge the appropriateness of computer game content."

I took my kids to visit Washington, DC as elementary school students
Vintage Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

Having taught my kids that the U.S. government loves and protects its children when I took them on a roadtrip to Washington, DC when they were younger, I just don't get this.  So I did a little research about the issues as well as find out more about who our U.S. Supreme Court Judges are to try and make more sense of all this.

Referencing a rejected California law restricting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors the Supreme Court decided in June that video games -- even violent ones  -- qualify under the U.S. Constitution for First Amendment protection.

That's a scary thought because the court's position applies even when kids are involved.  

I then dug further and discovered that
  • The current Supreme Court of the United States' nine members -- 3 women, 6 men -- have between 0 and 9 children each, totaling 13 kids in all.  
  • The two most-recently added Associates, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, aren't married and neither woman has offspring and that Associate Justice Scalia has the most of any judge with 9 children.  
  • All the other Associates as well as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. have 2 or 3 kids each.  
  • That's not including grandchildren or great grand kids some of the more senior Justices likely have -- which I wasn't able to count.
With so many children who are descendants of these Supreme Court justices that are also impacted by the deciion, it really surprises me that the outcome is so pro Big Business and not at all child-friendly. 

I'm also concerned about your children and mine -- collectively representing our nation's future.  I am proud to be an American and support the U.S. Constitution as one of its patriotic citizens. I'm also a firm believer, to a certain extent, in things like Freedom of Speech and the Press.  But I am also a mom of four kids -- triplets plus one more all born within a year -- and I think the First Amendment was taken too far in this particular decision.
My oldest as a toddler on the old-style PC CRT at The Disney Club
Vintage Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

In the end, I don't want my kids playing violent video games on their friends' hand-held devices during recess.  Now it's your turn to weigh in on this issue.   How about you? As a mom or dad of kids that potentially will be affected by this Supreme Court ruling both short- and long-term, what do you think?

FTC Disclosure:  MommyBlogExpert's opinions in this post are my own. Further, I did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this post.  See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little perplexed at how people continue to refer to this as a "pro business" decision. I hate to say this to you, Janis, but video games are speech, period. They have narrative, extensive development, art, music composing, writing, and voice acting with production values often running higher than most big budget films. If you think something's appropriate, don't let your kids play it.

    Am I parent? No, but being a parent doesn't give you the right to throw an entire medium under a bus because you think a small segment of it is inappropriate. Nor would it be okay for you to ban films on the grounds of horrific stuff like Saw or Hostel.