Survey: Violent Video Game Sales to Children Should be Illegal

Two-out-of-three American adults believe that state governments should be allowed to prohibit the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, according to a new Rasmussen poll.

The strong support (67 percent in the national phone survey) comes on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that overturned a California law that made it illegal to rent or sell violent games to children. Just 28 percent disagree.

However, Americans feel even stronger that government intervention on the matter is not as important as parental control. More adults said that parents are more responsible than the government for limiting the amount of sex and violence children are exposed to in those games by a 79 percent to 4 percent. Fifteen percent think the video game makers are more responsible.

Focus on the Family’s Bob Waliszewski, who is the director of the group’s entertainment review website, said that although parents should always show discernment for what they allow their children to play, it is proper for the government to intervene as well.

“Parents are the gatekeepers when it comes to what their kids can and cannot do,” Waliszewski told The Christian Post. “However, in this instance the government should have the right to ban violent video games just as they have the right to tell everyone to drive 20 miles per hour in a school zone. This is a good use of government intervention in this case.”

Brett Thomas, parent of two boys, and owner of a PlayStation 3, says his 5-year-old son rushes to the war and gun games section when at the video game store. The Laguna Niguel, Calif.- resident said his kids are influenced by seeing the violent video games other children are allowed to play.

“Other parents refuse to parent their kids with moral responsibility. They just want to keep their kids happy by way of being a cool friend,” Thomas said. “I believe there should be legislation passed to monitor sales for the many parents that aren't socially responsible for their kids. I don't always like to be the bad guy, but I will for my kids' sake.”

The poll showed that 39 percent say that makers of violent games should be held liable in court if it can be shown that their games led to someone committing a violent act.

Waliszewski said he has no doubt that violent video games are part of a larger spectrum of the entertainment media that is having a negative influence on children. He referred to a national study done in 2000 that showed that children who watch violent TV programs and movies become emotionally desensitized and tend toward aggressive behavior.

“The link between videos and video games is obvious. Not only are you viewing violence, you participate [virtually] in it,” Waliszewski said. “Parents need to take the whole issue of media discernment a lot more serious.”

All of the latest findings from the poll are largely unchanged from a survey done last November, according to Rasmussen Reports. The survey of 1,000 adults nationwide was conducted June 29-30 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is plus/minus 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.