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What Parents Need to Know About the Dangers of Video Games

Imagine for a moment, if you would, a group of concerned parents gathered in a room with civic leaders to discuss the dangers that something poses to their children. Times are changing quickly and many parents are feeling a growing concern for their children, a concern made stronger by the concerns that people they consider experts express on how children are being driven to lie, steal, and skip school in order to play addictive games.

Worse, precious resources that are vital to the safety of America are being used by the manufacturers of the machines that are being used to corrupt the morals of children.

If you are a parent, then chances are you might breathe easier to know that a law was passed that put a stop to the proliferation of such morally corrupting devices. Police staged raids and even went undercover, arresting store owners who were discovered to be in possession of illegal devices.

Raids on a variety of businesses that included bars, bowling alleys, amusement centers … even candy stores, routed out over 2,000 machines in New York city, where the mayor and police gathered with news photographers to do a very public display of smashing the illegal devices with sledge hammers.

Other cities followed the example that New York set. Milwaukee, Chicago, Los Angeles… In Los Angeles, Proposition No. 3 passed with about 161,000 votes for and 113,000 against the ban, and The Los Angeles Times reported:

Mayor Bowron and his Police Commission urged the adoption of the anti pin-ball law on the grounds that the machines are used for petty gambling, so widespread that the police are totally insufficient in number to enforce the law.

By this point anyone from Los Angeles will probably be scratching their heads over this Mayor Bowron. Most readers, I hope, will have caught the “pin-ball” in that quoted passage.

Yes, everything I have written here is the truth, it all happened in the 1940’s over the game of pin-ball and concerns that it was corrupting children and turning them to crime. You can read about the Pin-ball ban in New York at the website, and about the ban of pin-ball games in L.A. at the L.A. Times website.

The concerns about gaming go back well before the introduction of video games, and the history of video games is filled with controversial periods where one group or another has raised concern about the dangers of video games or the violence that is to be found in video games.

What parents need to know is what games their children are being exposed to, and to take a pro-active role in monitoring not just what children have access to, but how the children react to the things that parents can not supervise.

Many parents are understandably concerned that children will be able to play inappropriate games at a friend’s house or have some other access to the games that the parent wishes to keep out of their hands. The reasoning then becomes banning the games to protect the children, but that is an extremely dangerous path to take. There needs to be a compromise between the availability and freedom of expression of games created for older gamers, and  the addressing of concerns parents and others have for the well-being of children.

For now the best solution remains for parents to be pro-active in the lives of their children and to study the types of games their children have access to. A parent does not need to play every game their child plays, such an effort is all but impossible with so much variation in the gameplay of RPGs and the online interactions of many of the more popular games, but parents can seek out communities of gamers who are happy to offer their insight on the various games and answer questions.

If you are a parent reading this, then please, feel free to ask me anything you are concerned about and I will do my best to find some kind of answer to help you better understand the games that you are concerned about.

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