When video games first burst onto the kid scene, I interviewed a doctor who told me that he thought the games would be good for young children because they would improve their hand-eye coordination.
Does anybody still believe that video games help children?
I wonder whether video gaming has contributed to the lack of sustained focus in students that teachers often cite. I would be curious if long-time teachers see any difference in the generation of children — now in high school and beyond — raised on a daily diet of video games.
I am not a big fan of electronic gaming, although my boys play them. My older teen plays rarely now, but my younger one loves the soccer video games. I limit him to soccer and Zelda games because he is only 11. But he is well aware that Halo is out there.
Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors is legal. I am not sure why violent videos are treated differently than explicit sexual material under the law, but they are.
Should they be?
Two lower courts struck down the law as an unconstitutional restriction on the freedom of speech. California appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that lawmakers should be able to restrict sales of violent videogames to those under 18 just as they can restrict the sale of sexual material to minors. The high court said in a one-line order that it will hear the state’s appeal.
California said violent videogames harmed minors psychologically and made them more likely to exhibit violent antisocial or aggressive behavior. The state also said that industry self-regulation was a failure.
Two trade associations challenged the law in court, arguing that videogames are “a modern form of artistic expression” and are entitled to First Amendment protection. The associations said the industry’s voluntary rating system for videogames had been a successful effort to inform consumers and parents about the games’ content.
A federal trial judge in San Jose and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals each ruled that the state did not have sufficient evidence to support the claim that violent videogames harmed minors. The courts also said there were other, less restrictive ways to prevent minors from playing the games, such as parental controls on some gaming systems.
Other states have passed similar laws, but none of them have survived legal challenges brought by the video-game industry.