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The Problem Continues: A Lot of Parents Ignore or Don’t Care About ESRB Ratings

Posted on September 24, 2013 8:30 AM by Rob Williams
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Too often, video games are blamed for real-life violence, as if all it takes is a little bit of inspiration to cause someone to act out a brutal deed. I’ve been a huge Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater fan since the original PlayStation game, and I can tell you one thing: I’ve never attempted to crooked grind along an abandoned sewer halfpipe. Sure – it’s come to mind, but I’ve never followed-through. Because I’d be an idiot, and the mere thought of being crippled is a thought I’ve never enjoyed.

The interesting thing about video games getting the blame for violence is that a lot of the time, it’s parents that are at the forefront of it all. Yet, it’s been proven time and time again that a lot of parents are missing out on one crucial step in their parenting, and that is: parenting – to make the right decision for your kids when they want to make the wrong one. Such as wanting to kill police officers, take part in torture or impress strippers inside of a game like Grand Theft Auto V.

The question is then raised: How are kids getting a hold of a game so mature, it just scrapes the bottom of the ESRB’s Adults-only rating? Their parents buy it for them, of course.

Grand Theft Auto Parent's Logic

The problem here is obvious: At the end of the day, some parents either don’t want to withhold a game from their child because all of their friends have it; they don’t care what the game features; or they simply don’t know what the game features.

That latter thought is where the ESRB comes in. This is a group that plays through each game in its entirety before it’s given a rating, so as to give parents the most accurate summary of what’s “bad” about a particular title. As the rating scale goes, T is for teens, E is for everyone, and M is for gamers 17 and over.

At this point, “17 and over” is a bit of a joke, as it’s very common for parents to go to a game store to purchase such a title for their child that’s under ten years old. Now, I have to ask, who could reasonably state that such a young mind should be subjected to a game that glorifies violence to the highest degree, and heavily promotes sex, drugs and other adult-oriented material?

Grand Theft Auto V

At Kotaku, an anonymous “Video Game Retail Veteran” wrote an editorial which said out of the 1,000 or so copies of GTA V that were sold, about 10% of them were being sold to parents accompanied by a way-too-young-to-be-playing-it child. When this employee tried to give a rundown to these parents about why the game isn’t suitable for kids, he received general statements back like “All his friends have it” or “It’s for another one of my kids”.

Over the course of the past week, I’ve seen many experiences reiterated on Reddit, such as with the meme above, where game store employees actually offended the parents purchasing the game by doing the honorable thing and warning them about what the game entails.

As someone who’s not a parent, maybe this entire scenario seems easy, when in reality it isn’t. I can only imagine having a child that puts up a major fuss because you won’t get them the hottest game going. As a kid, I might have put up that fuss myself. Alright, I would have. When your friends have it, there’s little more frustrating than not being able to get it yourself. But kids lack maturity, and that’s why parents must step in. If they don’t, they really don’t have the right to complain about the detrimental side-effects that video games may cause.


  • Kayden

    Being a parent of three kids, one about to hit the teen years, I can honestly say this is all the parents fault. Do my kids like video games? Yes. Do they like games like this? No, because I don’t play them around my kids to encourage them to think it’s okay to play it at their age level. I have a ex-brother-in-law who is, lets just say lazy when it came to raising his kids. He didn’t care that his 3 or 5 year old sons were too young for the Saw movies (and etc) or very violent video games, but now his kids who are still less than 10 have been through tons of therapy and they still have major anger management issues.

    Being a responsible parent is hard work and there is no way around it but people who think they can just put kids in front of this kind of information and think “oh it’s all right, they are more advanced than we were at that age” is totally lying to themselves. I agree kids have access to more information than we did when we were that age but, it does not mean your or my kids are mature enough to handle that content.

    I do my best to make informed decisions for my kids no matter what the subject is, even if I don’t understand it at first or initially dislike it. I learn it, I consult my peers and make the best decision I can. The same cannot be said for all parents which is where I have my biggest problem with them and situations like this. They want others to be responsible for their children while the parent goes off and does what ever they want damming the consequences of what their children does, it just makes me sick. Then when they do something tragic they blame the very outlet they didn’t understand and take no responsibility for their inaction.

    The world is sadly filled with lazy and selfish people, even when it comes to their kids. As for right now, too many people are scared into inaction because of fear of losing their jobs, like that first picture here, but when mass shootings happen they demand more regulation across the board. I say let people be proactive and inform the customer no matter what the subject is be it guns, video games and etc. There is no reason to be ignorant to something, only arrogance prevents learning.

    • Bilal Khan

      Well said mate! :)

  • AssHat900

    I’m sure it’s fine.

  • http://techgage.com/ Brett Thomas

    It is beyond me how parents nowadays abdicate so much of their individual responsibility. As a parent of a little girl, it is MY JOB to know what is present in the world around her, especially things that she is likely to interact with. I equate this concept that “it’s the video game’s fault” to be as lazy as suing the electrical company if your kid sticks his finger in the socket.

    Here’s some simple rules for would-be and present parents out there. IT IS NOT:
    1) Your child’s teacher’s job to assign less homework, or to impose more discipline, or to give your kid an A for showing up;
    2) The TV’s fault for you not caring about, screening or (eegads!) helping a child understand and digest inappropriate material that they do see;
    3) The video game’s fault for the same things;
    4) The media’s fault when your child swears;
    5) An overly debauch culture’s fault when your child does not learn how to treat people;
    6) Modern food’s fault when your kid is obese from a diet of soda and mac & cheese;
    7) The job of medicine or a doctor to fix anger or attention issues stemming from low activity and lack of challenge;
    8) The job of the 8 clubs you enrolled your brat in to babysit him/her so you don’t have to.

    As a parent, all of these things are in YOUR control. If your kid grows up to be an inconsiderate ass or a monster, well, you’re definitely right that s/he learned it from somewhere…but it probably had to do a lot more with a distant, uncaring parent over the course of years than it did from playing a video game for a week.

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