Over the years, children have grown accustomed to violent video games, such as first-person shooters. There has been a lot of controversy over these violent video games and whether or not they should be sold to children who are under age 18.
According to the New York Times, the Supreme Court Tuesday, Nov. 2, began hearing arguments on a case involving a California ban on selling violent video games to minors. The Court’s decision could determine how much First Amendment protection video games enjoy and whether the California ban is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court agrees with California on the ban, it means that a store caught selling a violent video game to a minor would face a $1,000 fine. This case about First Amendment protection and the constitutionality of the violent video games ban will set a precedent for years ahead.
I think video games deserve First Amendment protection because they are a significant part of free speech and how we express individuality. As an American citizen, it should be my choice whether or not I want to play a violent video game and whether I want my children playing it as well. I am not a parent, but I do believe that the parent is responsible for whether or not the child under age 18 plays such graphic games. I do not agree with the California ban and think the Supreme Court should say it is unconstitutional.
If you walk in on your child playing a violent video game and you do not want them to, then just take the game away. It is the job of the parent to say whether or not their child should be exposed to the violent video game and not the role of the government. Video games are something children play as a fantasy and most of the children know that stealing a car or axing someone is not right, but it is the parent who needs to teach those values. A teenager who plays a violent video game is not going to grow up to kill people if the parent taught the child good morals and values. Although, if the law was upheld as constitutional, it would not surprise me because this is not the first time items have been banned from being sold to minors.
According to Justia, Ginsberg v. New York in 1968 allowed government regulation of the distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors. This court ruling was wrong in my opinion because of the fact the explicit materials did not contain obscenity, which is not protected by the First Amendment. This court case has set an odd meaning of what is considered obscene and what is just graphic or disgusting in the eyes of government regulators. Although that court case dealt with magazines and such, you would have to think that they would apply that law to other media such as video games. I do not think this court case made the right decision and, by doing so, it has limited First Amendment protection.
Our First Amendment right is freedom of expression, and this includes what you wear, how you act and even what video games you choose to play. I think the responsible party in the violent video game battle is the parents because they can stop their children from playing video games and it should be their responsibility. It is common knowledge that the more you do not want a child to do something, the more they will do it. If a teenager really wants the new violent video game that is hitting store shelves, you can bet that they will manage to buy it one way or another. We cannot stop our children from growing up and experiencing things; we can only give them the tools to make the right decision.
Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court Debates Violent Video Game Ban”, The New York Times
Justia, Ginsberg V. New York