A well publicized article in the UK Daily Mail today reported an unusual story of a man, Mark Bradford, 46,  accused of assaulting a 13 year-old boy after being “killed” by him in the popular interactive video game, Call of Duty.  A grown up assaulting a child is appalling anytime, but to have been provoked by something supposed to be for fun has to call into question the culpability of these games.  The mother of the alleged victim said this, “If you can’t stand losing to a child, you shouldn’t play the game.”

Gamers and proponents of games like Call of Duty, often dismiss incidents like this as actions of a small minority, and that the games themselves should not be questioned as a result.  But think about it, when was the last time you heard of a grown man throttling a young boy over losing at Monopoly?  What you do see, time after time, in many violent crimes is that the accused are gamers.  Does it mean everyone who plays these games will attack kids, or go on violent rampages?  Of course not.

But, should light be shed on the fact that all too often violent video games are part of these stories?  We think so.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that government needs to prevent their distribution, it does lead me to think that there is some collective imperative that more research is done on the correlation between the two.

As a parent, pediatrician or involved citizen, what do you make of these growing incidents between violent video games and real life violence?



There have been quite a few questions in the media and legally about what the justice system can do to regulate the gaming community without infringing on individual’s rights.  I think we all know how I feel about that, but if you don’t, I believe that every person has a right to play whatever they want, but when it comes to children, we need to protect them.  Sometimes that means knowing more than they do, sometimes that means regulating by law what they can and cannot do, and sometimes, just sometimes it means stepping up to the plate and doing what is right, but not what is always popular.

I came across a CNN article about the gaming industry in Japan and how they are allowed to create anything without being censored.  The reporter was explaining how this greatly affects us here in America.  If you have access to the internet, you can download any video game that is created anywhere in the world, not just the ones that are deemed acceptable by our own government. There was a video game that was created in Japan called RapeLay.  It is a video game that was created to simulate a rapist who can follow, groom, and then rape their victims which could be females, children, etc.  It was actually sold on Amazon for a short period of time, until the uproar caused by the public forced them to remove it from the website.  I am appalled that Amazon was ever going to sell the game, but the fact that it was created in the first place is unsettling as well.  The reporter actually interviewed a couple in England that was able to download the game onto their computer via skype and play it as if they had bought the game off the shelf at their local Walmart.

I believe that as parents, and community leaders, as caregivers, educators, and citizens of the United States, we need to ask the gaming community to not allow any games to be downloaded via the internet that are not sanctioned by their companies. Similar to television V-chips, I think there should be a lock available for computers that can allow parents to filter the material that can be downloaded on computers, or foreign material that isn’t regulated by our own government.

That may or may not ever take place, so instead of waiting around, what can you do?  My husband and I were asking this question the other night, this is what we’ve come up with:

We were talking about what we will do when our children become the age where they will be encoutering innappropriate media with or without our supervision.  My husband’s first reaction will be that he will make sure that he knows more than they do in regards to the games that are out there, and the movies that are available.  I think that is great, more power to him and to all of the parents out there that can do that.

I also said that I would put any video game consule that we have out in the common area so that whatever game they play will be in full view of the entire family.  That was one thing that prevented me from watching inappropriate television when I was growing up, because the only television we had was in the family room for all to see! We also talked about going over the ratings system and finding out why they are rated the way they are and what other “gamers” are posting about this particular game before we purchase it.  My husband says that he will periodically watch them playing the game, and this includes at the beginning, through out the middle and at the end.

But what happens when we aren’t home? What happens when he or she is at a friend’s house that doesn’t believe exactly what we believe?  What happens when he or she stumble upon something inappropriate?

It’s on these questions that we would love to see some government action.  Maybe it’s an awareness campaign, similar to the anti drug public service announcements of the 1980’s and 1990’s, maybe it is stricter distribution on suspect material, maybe it’s increased regulation on what can be produced.  Even with all of these things, with the ease of information distribution on the internet, it’s going to take the vigilance of parents to protect our children.

For those parents who think that there is no such thing as rape in the video games being sold on the shelves of our department stores, please think again.  I read an article by a gamer who said that she has played the game and explains what the controversy is all about. 

Here is the explanation that I gathered from the article.  Grand Theft Auto allows you to pick up a prostitute and then proceed to have sex with her in your car, but you have to pay her.  This, in itself might be degrading and terrible enough, but not technically raping a female.  BUT, here is what happens next.  The player has the ability to allow the prostitute to leave the car, and then follow her, beat her up and take back the money.  I would also agree that in that circumstance that would be rape.  You can read the gamers description of the game as well as her opinion of the rape sequence here.


Whether it was considered rape or not, the fact that you can pick up a prostitute and then take her to a seedy side of town and have sex with her, just seems unnecessary, and makes me wonder what happened to us a culture that we would allow our children to partake in such activities….WILLINGLY!!!  As parents, let’s get back to parenting and do what is necessary for our own children, and for society as a whole. I hope that anyone who reads this will ban this particular game from your children’s usage!

I have been researching statistics on violent video games, and these are the facts that I have come across.  I think that parents need to be aware of the factual content in the video games that their children are playing. 

  • For every 10 minutes of playing video games or computer games, boys between the ages of eight and 18 will see between two and 124 acts of violence.

  • In video games rated as Teen or Mature, players will see over 180 violent acts every 40 minutes, or 5,400 violent acts per month.
  • 78 percent of acts of violence in the first ten minutes of video games depict lethal acts of violence. 78 percent of the action is shown up close, and half of the violent segments have humor in them.

  • Mature-rated video game perpetrators are human perpetrators who commit continued acts of violence with weapons; only 10 percent of them are considered to have “good” character traits.

  • In 98 percent of games, the acts the player commits are unpunished; in more than half of video games, perpetrators of violence are rewarded.

I just wonder if parents sat and actually watched their child play these games, how long would they allow their child to play, and how long would they allow them to blow people up, slice and dice characters, and/or bully and kill innocent victims. 

I read an article from 2007 that was showing that playing video games has altered some children’s personalities as well as their choices and behaviors.  The article went on to say that some experts believe that playing video games is as addictive as using heroine.  The article said that almost 90% of American youth play video games and as much as 15% of them are classified as addicted, this is almost 5 million kids.

From the article, Joyce Protopapas of Frisco, Texas commenting on her 17 year old son, Michael, said: “We went to therapists, we tried taking the game away.  He would threaten us physically. He would curse and call us every name imaginable, It was as if he was possessed.”

The article goes on to state that there was an anonymous website created for gamers who are wanting help.  A posting by an thirteen year old who stated that after playing video games for twelve hours he was suicidal and was thinking he was addicted.  The website also had numerous postings from men who had lost everything because of their video game habits.

The AMA will be deciding later this year as to whether it will classify Video Addiction as a Mental Disorder.  It seems that the article has quotes and opinions from quite a few mothers that would agree that media addiction should be classified as a mental disorder, and also taken more seriously in the addiction arena.

While this article is only one example, we’ve shared many examples of media addiction, specifically video game addiction and it’s impacts on kids.  Do you think if the AMA took this big step, it would have an impact on parents?

I was reading an article about cartoons and the problems that occur with television ratings.  It is shocking that it isn’t just about the content in the cartoons but that what they are marketing and trying to sell to the kids during commercials.  The article was contained on parentstv.org , titled Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter.  It talked about the Nielsen Data, and how it states that TV-PG shows and cartoons are shown to not only be over-loaded with profanity, but also contain very adult storylines from rape, cocaine, STD’s and crystal meth.  They also said that networks are failing to warn parents what are in these shows, and specifically Cartoon Network failed to warn parents 100% of the time.

The article also talked about what the advertisements were during these TV-PG shows. They were definitely NOT advertising pillow pets, and toothbrushes, quite the contrary, they were advertising rated R movies, TV-MA shows, and DVD’s .  It is outrageous to think that we aren’t trying to persuade these already impressionable little kids into wanting to buy things that are completely innappropriate!  Just to warn other parents, once again, I think we might be alone in this world, and that no one is going to help us, so we must help each other!

I know that I keep talking about children and how media usage effects them. But I not only know this to be true from being a preschool teacher and a parent of two, but I believe in my heart that we need to help one another navigate through this media driven world.

I sometimes wonder why children have such a desire to have a cell phone, to text their friends, or play video games, watch violent movies, or even inappropriate television. But then I evaluate my own media usage and that of my friends and family. Children want to be adults at such a young age. Before there were cell phones and computers, the children wanted to drive as eary as possible, have a family and career of their own, and do things that made them feel grown up and adult. So, it would only figure that they would want to do everything that we, as adults, would do, including our media habits.

I am trying to model the media usage behavior that I would want them to display when they are older. I don’t text and drive, and try not to talk on the phone at all while driving. I do not text during meals, or any time that I am interacting with my children. I set aside time to use the computer, watch television, text and email while they are busy doing something else. I don’t want them to feel as though my media usage is more important than the time I get to spend with them. We do not have the television running while they are playing, they have set aside times to watch it, and so do I. I do not have the television running while I am doing other things as well. I shut down all media devices while they are not in use, so that there are specific times to use these, and that does not mean all day long. We cannot expect our children to live by a different standard than the one that we are setting for them.

I was reading more about the death surrounding the gamer, Chris Staniforth, who died of a blod clot.  Above all else, this is very sad.  With that said, it’s frustrating because it’s totally preventable.  Medical professionals are now coming out and saying that those individuals who play these games need to take regular breaks to move around and exercise their bodies.

We know this issue extends far beyond just an extreme case like this.  Excessive gaming, especially violent games, has shown major physiological changes on the brain, as well as a host of other public health issues.

Our hope is that a terrible case like this, sheds more light on an important, yet largely unknown issues associated with video game play.  Clearly, the video game industry doesn’t aim for outcomes like this.  But as parents, teachers, physicians, and other citizens engaged in society, we should hold every industry to similar scrutiny.

While it’s easy to throw stones at things that have a more direct correlation to adverse outcomes, like alcohol or tabacco, stories like this raise sometimes more challenging questions.  Should there be regulations or warnings?  Would that even have impact on those gamers that seem to show signs of addiction?  Does the government have any role in regulation of these games, or, as the Supreme Court ruled, is this artistic expression.

What’s clear is that the days of Pong and Mario Brothers are long behind us.  We would be interested to hear your thoughts on how you process through these issues when Constitutional rights run into public health and safety issues.

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 in Media Violence News, Parents Stories | Leave a comment

My whole life I have lived in areas where Primetime Television started at 8:00 p.m. I have now moved to an area where it starts at 7:00 p.m. I have two small children so this is a real problem. The television cannot even be turned on around 8:00 p.m. due to the violence, sexual content, language and plot material contained in the shows that air at this time. What are the solutions for families that live in the areas where local channels air shows that have explicit material so early in the evening?

Posted on June 22nd, 2011 in Media Violence News | Leave a comment

My husband and I always like to know what is contained in each and every movie before we take our two children to go see it. I vividly remember going to see Forest Gump with my parents and it was awkward and uncomfortable to hear the sex scenes, and to see the naked scenes with my parents. That movie might be okay for some families, but it was not okay for OUR family. Because of that, I always like to check to see what sex scenes I will encounter, what drug and alcohol use are represented, what kind of language is used and what are the specific types of violence my children will be subjected to while watching a particular movie. If you are wondering these same things for you and your family, please go to: www.moviereports.org
This has been a great find, and I hope you all love it as much as I do. The added benefit is that it also has older movies on there that are being released to DVD in case you missed them in the movie theater! Happy Viewing!