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Parents: Video Game Monitoring Not Up To Lawmakers

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Where ever Kaylee Hardin is, her Nintendo DS isn’t far away, but what you won’t find on the 8-year-old’s handheld video game console is violence.

“I monitor pretty closely which video games Kaylee plays and which ones she doesn’t, her father Shane Hardin said.  “She did get a video game from one of her neighbors and it was a little more violent than her mom felt comfortable with so we had to take it away from her.”

The State of California wanted to monitor what games kids play as well. Lawmakers there passed a law banning the sale of violent games to minors, but Monday the Supreme Court overturned it.

Jame Steyer, who runs Common Sense Media which rates the content of games and videos, helped craft the California law.  “This decision was not in the best interest of parents, no question.” He said.

But as a parent, Hardin disagrees.  “I think it was the correct opinion mainly because it does restrict freedom of speech,” he said. “The video game makers have the right to make those games and market them towards whomever they want, however I think it’s the parents’ job to monitor their children and what they’re playing.”

Video games have a voluntary rating system. M stands for Mature, which is considered unsuitable for those under 17 years old.

Grapevine-based GameStop has a company policy restricting the sale of those games to children without parental permission, but the company isn’t required by law to do that.  “GameStop continues to believe that the video game industry’s voluntary ratings system and our committed associates, not legislation, are the best ways to ensure age-appropriate video games make it into the hands of our younger customers,” the company said in a statement.

Tom Gardner doesn’t have a problem with his kids playing games that contain violent material.

“I want my kids to have the opportunity to play those games, race car games, football, baseball, basketball games, this is just one of many games my son or my kids will play,” he said. “Parents need to be parents, they need to say this is what my kids can and cannot do, and push the government to the side a little bit on that.”

His son, Nathan, loves video games so much the Garner’s held his 10th birthday party at TH3 Arcade in North Fort Worth.

“We wanted to create a fun safe place for kids to come play video games ,” said owner Will Gardner, who admits video games are big business. “Every time school gets out, we get smashed, we have birthday parties booking up every weekend.”

And Tom Gardner, who is not related to the TH3 owner, believes his son is not only safe, but just fine emotionally, despite any violence on the screen.

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