Violent games - to ban or not to

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 April, 2010, 12:00am

The United States Supreme Court has decided to review a California law which bans the sale or rental of violent video games to minors - teenagers aged under 18.

Supporters of the ban insist that just as the sale of pornographic materials to minors is banned, video games that contain gory, graphic violence should be too.

The Court of Appeals threw the ban out last year, saying there was no conclusive research and findings on violent video games leading to aggression and addiction.

'None of the research establishes or suggests a causal link between minors playing violent video games and actual psychological or neurological harm,' said Judge Consuelo Callahan in the ruling.

It was also concluded that the ban would violate the constitutional rights of minors.

The ban was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005.

Several major studies by The Harvard Medical School Centre for Mental Health, The Journal of Adolescent Health and the British Medical Journal showed no links between video game usage and increased aggressive behaviour, nor did the games have any particular negative effects on children.

Some groups say video games have become the scapegoat for social problems. Other factors, such as television, peer pressure and even the environment, affect teenagers' behaviour and could lead to violence. Without extensive research, legislators cannot be so sure to issue the ban on the sale of violent video games to minors.

It was hoped that the ban could act as a deterrent on minors, and that parents could decide on what video games their children should be playing. But then, should video games that promote eating fatty foods and smoking be banned as well?