A recent story reported by Baptist Press reporter Erin Roach indicates that video game retailers are selling Mature-rated video games to minors 36 percent of the time. The story was based on a study by the Parents Television Council. The goal of the research was to determine if age restriction policies were being enforced. The results should be alarming to parents.

Children who participated in the study were instructed to enter the store, find an M-rated game and attempt to purchase it with cash. They were instructed to not lie or misrepresent themselves during the process. When games were purchased, the adult who had waited outside the store would return the game and ask for a refund.

Most children who were able to purchase a game said when the item was scanned for sale at the register a note came up requesting ID, but the cashier ignored it.

Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council (PTC), said the study shows retailers are failing to prevent children from purchasing violent and sexually graphic video games.

“It is outrageous that retailers are not exercising greater responsibility, and even more absurd that there are no meaningful consequences for those retailers who ignore their industry’s own age restriction policies,” Winter stated. “Countless independent studies confirm that repeated exposure to graphic sexual, violent and profanity-laced video games has a harmful and long-term effect on children. It is high time for retailers to follow the video game industry guidelines and check IDs so children will not be able to purchase M-rated video games.”

Roach reported that at a Target store in Massachusetts, a cashier informed a 13-year-old boy that the computer was instructing him to ID anyone who looked under 35, PTC said in a news release July 23. The boy started to walk away, but the cashier said, “That’s OK. I’ll sell it to you anyway.”

Parents are entitled to a reasonable expectation that age restrictions for adult entertainment products will be enforced at the retail level. Unfortunately, parents can add video games to the list of enforcement concerns they have for their children. Laws are in place to restrict minors from alcohol, tobacco and pornography, but even with crack downs on offenders, children continue to be exposed and victimized by careless retailers and adults.

Parents are ultimately responsible for the behavior of their children. Certainly, parents should be aware of any form of media their child is viewing. Unfortunately, not all parents take an active role in the lives of their children. Combine this lack of involvement with irresponsible retailers, and you have the makings of a child exposed to harmful material that could very well scar them for a lifetime.

We encourage concerned parents and other citizens to contact their congressional representatives to ensure that the video game industry will become more responsible. Our children should be allowed to enjoy their innocence rather than being exposed to adult content that, in most cases, isn’t suitable for viewing by even the most mature adults.