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Politician Iain Duncan Smith on violent video games: 'We are driving children to lose their childhood'

A bit strong?

Politician Iain Duncan Smith on violent video games: 'We are driving children to lose their childhood'
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iPhone + DS + DSi ...

Former opposition leader Iain Duncan Smith has been making the video game blogosphere cross by suggesting that video games are a bad influence on the young.

“We are driving children to lose their childhood,” he told The Times, “and some video games are incredibly violent, like Grand Theft Auto. They are meant to be 18 but nobody cares what it says on the label."

Let's evaluate his argument.

Ian Duncan Smith is correct because... underage children do indeed play adult games, and parents are probably less conscious of video game ratings than they are of ratings for films. That said, a recent study conducted by the Harrison Group (and reported by Edge-Online) showed that 62 per cent of adults in the US do conduct research before allowing their children to play video games. Iain Duncan Smith is wrong because... while parents ought to take video game ratings as seriously as they take film ratings, the fact is that children and teenagers routinely consume violent content on both media without coming to harm. (I myself was an avid watcher of 18-rated action and horror films from the age of about 11, and have grown up to be perfect.) In conclusion... Mr Smith's claim contains two major exaggerations. Firstly, he's wrong to say that 'nobody' cares about ratings. Secondly, it's unclear what the term “lose their childhood” actually means.

A Google search of the words "lost his childhood" throws up results about war and parental abandonment. These being the sorts of thing the term generally refers to, Mr Smith is clearly overstating his case a bit.

CVG