The US Supreme Court determined that there was no proof that violent video games cause harm…
There has been a long running debate about the effect of violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Postal have on both children and adult’s behaviour.
The Supreme Court of America ruled in June this year that it is unconstitutional to ban children from buying or renting violent video games, saying that the American Government doesn’t have the authority to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed”.
On a 7-2 vote, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment, and the high court was in agreement.
Justice Antonin Scalia likened violent video games and video game violence to be akin to violence in children’s fairytales such as Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and Snow White.
“Certainly the books we give children to read — or read to them when they are younger — contain no shortage of gore,” Scalia stated.
And there is no definitive proof that violent video games cause harm to children, or any more harm than another other form of entertainment, he said.
This view is supported by a recent paper based on studies at the University of Texas that cited the following:
”Overall, violent video games lead to decreases in violent crime.” In fact, although the Texas study does say that video games are violent, it can cause aggression but in a positive way.
The study discovered that although there is evidence that violent video games cause aggression in a laboratory setting, there is no evidence that violent video games cause violence or crime.
In fact, two recently published studies analysed the effect of violent media (movies and video games) on crime, and found increased exposure may have caused crime rates to decrease.”
In other words, video game players are taking out their aggression in the virtual world and getting it out of their system and are less likely to vent their aggression and anger in the real one.
More than 46 million American households have at least one video-game system, with the industry bringing in at least $18 billion in 2010. The video game industry in America has its own rating labelling system intended to warn parents, with the rating “M” placed on games that are considered to be especially violent.
This is welcome news for other regions such as Australia who have been campaigning for an R+ rating for violent video games for almost a decade.
At a meeting of attorneys-general in July, there was an in-principle agreement between the various states and territories of Australia to introduce the R18+ classification.
Only the NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith abstained from the vote, stating that he would need to consult with cabinet on the issue.
Minister for Justice Brendan O’Connor today welcomed in-principle agreement by Classification Ministers to create – for the first time – an adult category for violent computer games in Australia.
“This is a big step forward in the long running debate on classification of computer games for adults,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material,” he said.
While the jury is still out on whether video games violence causes harm, in regions such as Australia at least, the classification of violent video games will ensure they do not fall into the hands of minors who are more easily influenced.