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Guest Editorial

Stop blaming Hollywood, blame yourselves

BY DANIEL KLINE

Videogames, TV and movies aren't making children violent. Bad parenting and lack of parental involvement has accomplished that quite nicely without any help from the entertainment industry.

Too many parents, however, are willing to cast blame any place but inward when their kids misbehave. It isn't the video games, movies and TV shows that wrecked these kids, it's the parent who allows the children unfettered access to them that causes the problems.

These lazy adults are forever begging Washington to come up with new ways to regulate the entertainment industry. Instead of asking for rules, parents must invest their own time helping their kids make choices.

The latest non-issue that has renewed the fervor for Big Brother to step in, was the discovery of hidden graphic sex scenes in the game "Grand Theft Auto." Of course, even before the secret sex was found any rational adult knew that the game was not appropriate for most children. Simply the name of the product and the description on the packaging should make it obvious to any parent that some research should be done before buying it.

Clearly, having a hidden sex scene in the game is inappropriate, but the intended audience for "Grand Theft Auto" would not be unduly damaged by seeing some animated characters getting busy. This wasn't a porn film dropped into the middle of "Elmopalooza." It's sex mixed into a game already filled with violence and murder.

No rating system is needed to raise a parental red flag over a game with words "grand theft" in its name, just as no rating system should be needed to tell parents that prime time TV might contain material they deem inappropriate. Parents must stop neglecting their responsibilities to their children and expecting the government to pick up the slack. It's not Uncle Sam's job to decide what your kids watch on TV, what movies they see or what sorts of video games they play.

It does not take an act of Congress for me to understand that a 7-year-old should not go see "Wedding Crashers" or that an 11-year-old might not be ready to watch "Desperate Housewives." Pretending you need help on these things doesn't make you a good parent, it makes you the idiot who sued McDonalds because he said he didn't realize their greasy, fried food was bad for you.

Turning this authority over to the government robs parents of the ability to make decisions that benefit their child. One 13-year-old may lack the maturity to watch an R-rated movie like "Saving Private Ryan" while another may benefit greatly from the experience. No bureaucrat can make a rule that encompasses the differences in how we mature and no elected official could possibly know your kid.

When I was in sixth grade my parents watched the video for the song "Centerfold" before they let me see it. They took an active role in what movies I saw, what TV shows I watched and what books I read.

In my case, this rarely resulted in them denying me access to anything. Instead, my parents were available to discuss whatever information I ingested. This might not have been easy or fun for them and it certainly forced them to watch more MTV than they may chosen to on their own, but it was obviously the right thing to do.

We don't need laws to raise our kids. We need common sense. If you had the child then take responsibility for it and stop expecting someone else to do your job.

Daniel Kline is a freelance writer. He can be reached at dan@notastep.com.

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