Everyone Be Afraid! Predators Move To Game Consoles

from the fear-fear-fear! dept

There's a neat little rule in press coverage: three stories makes a "trend" even if there's not much more to it. This works particularly well on stories where you're trying to scare people into worrying about something "bad" happening out there. Of course, rather than explore how widespread the problem is, the report usually just quotes a few biased individuals and spreads the message of "fear, fear, fear!" Witness this story in USA Today claiming that sexual predators are using gaming consoles to target kids. It hits all the points: scary situation, lists out three cases, quotes a few police officers claiming it's a big deal -- but doesn't provide any evidence or stats on how widespread this really is.

You would think that the press would have learned to be careful about this, given that a whole bunch of studies came out in the last year showing that the press greatly exaggerated the "threat" of predators on social networks, as they're really not that widespread and the actual threat is minimal. But I guess reality and facts don't sell as many newspapers as blind fear mongering. So, while I'm sure that this is happening in a few isolated cases, it's hard to believe that this is particularly widespread. If it's not really happening much on social networks (where this sort of "grooming" would be easier), it seems unlikely that it's widespread on gaming consoles. And, of course, most kids know better than to engage with such strangers online, anyway.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 10:55pm

    TFA

    On top of the overall stupidity of this topic, the article talks about a 10-yo boy getting an adult video from someone while playing Halo.

    Um, Halo3 at least is rated M. Where are the parents?

     

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  2.  
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    The Exorcist, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 11:15pm

    Push that manure

    Isn't that the way of modern journalism though? One guy reads something on the net, blogs it, and 3 reporters grab it.. Suddenly its Armageddon galore. There's the wailing and gnashing of teeth as told in biblical end of the world scenarios.

     

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  3.  
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    Lee, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 11:51pm

    What do you know

    Holy mother of god, you mean to tell me that journalism isn't based on facts. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH The media only cares about ratings they could give a shit whether or not what their printing has any substance. You hear everyday about how doomed we all are and what the daily cause is. The only thing hindering the US is bullshit media. I think it's time to reconsider the meaning of "freedom of the press".

     

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  4.  
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    Evil Mike, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 1:44am

    Media is...

    "You would think that the press would have learned to be careful about this..."

    But; the Press is IN the entertainment industry, no the information industry.

    Sensationalism (pronounced here as "bullshit") sells, creates a buzz, and keeps people tuning in to their daily dose of spoon-fed thoughts... besides, who wants to think for themselves?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 1:56am

    All your children are belong to us...

    Sorry, I had to ;-p

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 2:42am

    LIES!!!!

    "He used a game, World of Warcraft, to lure a 12-year-old girl into having sex with him. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. "

    Not true there are no girls on the internet.

    /sarcasm

     

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  7.  
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    Wolfy, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 4:11am

    I don't credit "McNewspaper" with any credibility.

     

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  8.  
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    bobbknight, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 5:45am

    HeadLine

    A RECENT STUDY MIGHT POINT TO A POSSIBLE INCREASE OF PEDERASTS IN GAMING

    The above might sell a news paper.

    SEXUAL PREDATORS LURE KIDS WITH SEX AND DRUGS IN GAMES

    This will sell papers.

    Which one do you think would be used?

     

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  9.  
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    DS, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 6:09am

    Wow, and I thought a large vocal group of Wii owners were actually COMPLAINING that it was too hard to connect to other Wii's online.

    Oh wait, that actually requires research.

     

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  10.  
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    Jman594, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 7:16am

    Re: TFA

    I'm sorry, any game that has ANY violence in it is automatically rated M. If you have children under the age of 12 and you have an xbox or PS3, the only suitable games for them are my little pony and or whatever. I remember playing with toy soldiers and GI Joe's in which I was completely involved in the murder and destruction of the enemy.

    I think that the parents of this child recognize that the morons who rate the games and the people who claim that video games are the problem with violence among children, are full of shit.

    Also, there is no possible way that you can put adult videos through a game such as Halo3. period. All you can do is make a capture of gameplay an post it to your gamer profile.

    Now, there has to be some parental intervention concerning rated M games. Halo 3 in my eyes - needs to be rated M. But with morons rating games and those that believe idiotic stories like this, there will never be a fair rating system.

     

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  11.  
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    Jman594, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: TFA

    Awesome, when you put in less than signs, it thinks your trying to put in HTML code. so for that last para graph, i will have to fix what I was trying to say.

    Now, there has to be some parental intervention concerning rated M games. Halo 3 in my eyes - needs to be rated **(Less than)M. And games such as Grand theft auto, need to be rated (Greater Than)M.** But with morons rating games and those that believe idiotic stories like this, there will never be a fair rating system.

     

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  12.  
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    Iggy, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 7:46am

    The 'M' rating for Halo is quite funny, unless it means that anyone over 18 will be crap at the game. Halo is RULED by 13-14 year olds in the XBOX live world. Same with Call of Duty.

     

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  13.  
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    Walter Borden, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 8:27am

    Parents are at work

    The parents are out there working their tails off to pay for the Halo3's. This is such a pretentious blog -- while I don't think the above is much of a real issue -- all this self-righteous commentary is disturbing. The internet is not perfect, and no parent has the ability to monitor it. Techdirt has devolved into a circle jerk of people who seem to think the the Internet in unlike the real world -- a great place often ruined by the few awful people that chose to exploit it.

    And by he way, I notice that one can't post without leaving an email address anymore on the precious Techdirt blog. Umm, isn't that bad too?

    Far too much whining on this blog and far too little clear thinking about the implications for all us in terms of free speech and networked communications.

     

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  14.  
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    Jan, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    fear mongering and agresivity

    I am not Michael Moore's fan but i think he had smome interesting ideas in Bowling for Columbine - one of them was a theory about close relation between fear mongering typical for American media ('national paranoia') and very high level of violence in America compared to Europe or Canada.

     

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  15.  
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    Cris Williams, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    @Parents are at work

    @Walter, I understand the argument you are making, but I can say the same thing about the telephone. The safeguard is the parents. A predator will use methods that are available. I say don't blame the Internet for some things..it is just a method of communication that some people use badly. I can call a home from a payphone and do the same thing and no one would know who I am. I hope you get the point. Honestly what is next...articles on how Twitter, AIM, or any future technologies of communicating can be used to do bad things to people. It is not necessary an epidemic.
    PS.. Here is my email address if you want it.

     

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  16.  
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    Kiba, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    Re: Parents are at work

    Huh? I can post without leaving my email.

     

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  17.  
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    DS, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 9:41am

    Jan.. wasn't Fareheit 911 fear mongering?

     

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  18.  
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    John Wilson, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:02am

    Re: Parents are at work

    No, the internet is not perfect, there are nasty folk using it.

    "Techdirt has devolved into a circle jerk of people who seem to think the the Internet in unlike the real world -- a great place often ruined by the few awful people that chose to exploit it."

    And your point is?

    The same can be said for any other form of communication or real life for that matter.

    The point here is sensationalist reporting with little or no evidence to back it up.

    And it is the parents who are ultimately responsible for monitoring their children's activity on game boxes and to educate them about the potential dangers even if they are remote.

    Working your butt off to pay for the latest adult toy doesn't count for child rearing.

    ttfn

    John

     

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  19.  
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    whample, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    Re: TFA

    ESRB Rating for Halo 3
    Mature 17+
    Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Jan, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:09am

    Re:

    DS... I haven't seen it - I have read some really bad reviews and like I say I am not Moore's fan... so maybe it was fear mongering - I don't know - I just agree with the idea that paranoia makes agressive behaviour more likely.

    I've been to America and I can tell you sometimes it felt really weird watching news... making threats out of everything. But for Americaans it's normal. Sometimes it was really funny... news reporter talking about some total nonsense like it could kill everyone on our planet... tragic voice, 'funeral' face... now when I think about it, it's not funny... it's scary.

    Let's have some more fear mongering. These guys, warning us about all those threats like internet predators and killing computer games - THEY are the threat.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    What an incredibly ridiculous article castigating those who have concerns about online predators. Perhaps those concerns are overstated, but it is undeniable that communication over the internet provides greater access to a pool of susceptible people than telephones and any other prior forms of communication ever have. After all, isn't the internet all about instant, worldwide communication? Isn't the anonimity it encourages to some degree a relevant factor? Surely it is harder to discern a predator's age when the only contact is via typed text.

    Parent's have responsibility...it goes without saying. But we should not fool ourselves that that alone will take care of things.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    Techdirt readers should watch Fareheit 911 this 4th of July. See what has been given up.

    Pay attention to the part where they say how they created fear and panic in the general populous.

    Protip: Read the wikipedia article about The "Council on Foreign Relations".

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    Predator: Wanna meet in Person?
    Random Gamer:*shoots Predator in the face* Haha! Take that!


    Yeah that'll work better than social network stalking.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Parents are at work

    So can I.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Re:

    Somebody set us up the blog.

     

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  26.  
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    Mike (profile), Jul 4th, 2008 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Parents are at work

    This is such a pretentious blog -- while I don't think the above is much of a real issue -- all this self-righteous commentary is disturbing.

    Wait, so you agree with the point that we're making, but you're upset that we're making it?

    And, what do you mean by "self-righteous"? We provide our opinion, that's all. And we leave the comments open to anyone who wants to respond. If we were really so self-righteous why would we leave the comments open for discussion?

    The internet is not perfect, and no parent has the ability to monitor it.

    Who said we think parents should monitor all the time. We have not. We have said that parents *should* teach their kids how to deal with dangers online if they're not going to be around.

    And by he way, I notice that one can't post without leaving an email address anymore on the precious Techdirt blog. Umm, isn't that bad too?

    That's simply not true. You can post without an email address.

    Far too much whining on this blog and far too little clear thinking about the implications for all us in terms of free speech and networked communications.

    What have we not covered that you think we should?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Walter Borden, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 7:28pm

    Re: @Parents are at work

    Chris: My view is this: predators will as you rightly point out use any means available, and alas the Internet is one of them now. Pretending that "ratings" or parental supervision will help the matter is delusional in my view. I myself am an advocate for unrestrained free speech, but do NOT think that its as simple as saying, "oh, gosh", its the parent's fault...I am a parent, and yes, I work about 10 hours a day as a software engineer, and no, I am not a bad parent. But I am sick of hearing all this blather about how us parents are all fear mongers and paranoid, blah, blah. blah. As I noted this morning and as I will say again, far too many on this blog are whistling past the graveyard.

     

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  28.  
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    Silvermane, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 7:46pm

    Ok, the above article (linked) sites 3 cases.

    So, here are the numbers on it;

    1,407,724,920 (Internet usage worldwide)
    3 (cases sited about this)

    Thats
    0.000000002131%

    Really newsworthy

     

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  29.  
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    Silvermane, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 7:56pm

    As for the World of Warcraft thing, ...

    http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/legal/termsofuse.shtml

    Eligibility.
    You represent that you are an adult in your country of residence. You agree to these Terms of Use on behalf of yourself and, at your discretion, for one (1) minor child for whom you are a parent or guardian and whom you have authorized to use the account you create on the Service.

    So, to even install the game legally was the parents responsibility.



    PARENTS YOUR RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CHILD, NOT SCHOOLS the INTERNET, or TV, etc ... YOU ARE ...

    So please wake up to your responsibility!!!!

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    James the cable guy, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:23pm

    Re: fear mongering and agresivity

    Then why the fuck watch that crap? If your not a fan... Pinko!

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jul 4th, 2008 @ 10:35pm

    White vans, Internet Chat Rooms, Little Puppies, Candy..

    Predators seem to use a variety of tools. WoW is just another one of them.

     

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  32.  
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    Fungo Knubb, Jul 5th, 2008 @ 4:33am

    Say it isn't so

    What?! ... the news media is fabricating stories to either gain higher audience count or satisfy their political agenda? Oh say it isn't so ... you mean "AP" doesn't stand for 'Associated Phables'? Oh ... what am I gonna tell my kids?

     

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  33.  
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    Cassius Seeley, Jul 5th, 2008 @ 5:35am

    To Jan

    I could not agree with you more. In fact, a couple of years ago I simply stopped watching American national news and I watch almost no local news for my city. They are all fear mongering morons. My life took a turn for the better. It was like a weight had been lifted. The only "news" I get now is carefully picked and chosen from a few sources on-line. I saw we all just stop. Stop watching the news, listening to the new, or purchasing newspapers. Perhaps this would make it less profitable to scare us and more profitable for them to inform us. I just want the pure unadulterated facts. Just my 2 cents.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Cowherd, Jul 5th, 2008 @ 9:21am

    We get signal.

    Or rather, we don't? There seem to be no posts on Techdirt for Friday this week.

     

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  35.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 5th, 2008 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: TFA - HTML lesson

    "Halo 3 in my eyes - needs to be rated <M. And games such as Grand theft auto, need to be rated >M."

    How's that? ;)

    It doesn't take much, just learn a few simple codes:

    < = &lt;
    > = &gt;
    & = &amp;

    ... assuming I didn't screw that up. The preview replaces the HTML so I'm reluctant to preview to make sure. :)

     

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  36.  
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    Cecil Green, Jul 5th, 2008 @ 11:47am

    Nielsen Families

    Unless you have a Nielsen ratings box on your set, they'll never know you're not watching.

    What we need is a concerted effort to get Nielsen families to boycott mainstream media during sweeps months, while they write to their respective news stations (anonymously) explaining their actions. If they're specific -- like, "we're not watching you anymore because you fed us Paris Hilton stories while our rights were disappearing" -- they'll listen. Use the ratings against them. It's the only thing they listen to.

     

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  37.  
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    DCX2, Jul 6th, 2008 @ 8:37am

    mmm, capitalism

    But I guess reality and facts don't sell as many newspapers as blind fear mongering.

    God bless Capitalism, yeah?

     

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  38.  
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    Jethacker, Jul 6th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    Raise you children yourselves

    I've raised my children, neither myself or the rest of society is responsible for raising yours.

     

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  39.  
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    Thinking, Jul 6th, 2008 @ 3:31pm

    Big Picture

    IMO game ratings are a CYA for the folks selling/making them. Once your underage kid has access to the game, generally "xyz" had to have taken place for him or her to end up with it. You or another adult has made this game available to the kid not Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft or the retail outlet.
    At the end of the day mom and pop are responsible no matter how you slice it. The odds being stacked against you or for you is just part of reality at any given point in time.
    Yes the media does engage in a great deal of "pump up the BS" and it's for money...don't like it...subcribe to someone's podcast LOL.
    When I hear stories about little girls running away to Iraq!!?? To be with someone they met online!!!??? It makes me scratch my head, trying to figure out WTF?!? How missing are parents when things like this form and play out? Travelling out of country is not free or simple for adults..so how does a love struck non-working teen do it?

     

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  40.  
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    Todd, Jul 6th, 2008 @ 4:36pm

    I think I'm reading a different blog

    I just read the post. And it seemed to me to be about the media jumping on something and citing it as fact without really bothering to dig into the so-called epidemic of 'predators on game-consoles.'

    At some point between the blog and comments, it turned in to a piece on "fear-mongering, paranoia, raise your own damn kids, no-you raise my kids, why the f*** is this game rated that, and how did someone get propositioned in World of Warcraft..."

    Seriously?

    Since the comments have become the place to mentally discharge and then forget you ever posted anything, I guess I'll play along.

    First off...Consoles have a bit more 'safeguards' built in to them to avoid random, willie-nillie, communication from skankbob out in his cabin somewhere wanting to molest little boys. Are they perfect? No, but there is at the least a few additional layers that the PARENT can use to ensure the CHILD does not get online an into areas they shouldn't be getting in to.

    Secondly, Game ratings are VOLUNTARY. The game-publishers are doing this as a show of good faith (and more importantly, they are rating their own games in order to keep the government from stepping in and rating the games-PMRC anyone?). In most cases, game makers will error on the side of caution. Blowing someone's head off in LEGO StarWars is no different than blowing someone's head off in Halo3 except that it's LEGOs flying around instead of blood and entrails...the actual 'violence' is the same, it's the way it's delivered that gives one an 'E' rating and the other and 'M.'

    And lastly, PARENTS have a responsibility to teach their CHILDREN. Period. And if I need to teach another parent's child, I will. If that child comes in to contact with mine and does not behave in a way that's consistent with what I'm teaching my childre, you can believe that I'll take that opportunity for a little life-lesson. Growing up, my friends parents had no problems disciplining or scolding me if I was over at their house. Parents have become afraid to actually be adults (mostly because so many adults run around thinking they're kids...and more so because so many young adults are trying to raise children).

    And there you have it. Another comment that's about 10% related to the actual post, and 90% wind-bagging.

    I love the interwebs.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2008 @ 7:50pm

    Re: Re: TFA

    Re: #10.

    I actually currently have an 18-yo step-son. Have had since he was 8 or so. Over the years, he has had a Wii, a GameCube, a PlayStation, a PS2, a PS3, and an original X-Box.

    It is only in the last year or two that we have bought him any "M" games. Do we realize he probably plays them at his friends houses? Even at his dad's house? Sure. Did we provide them? No.

    I completely reject the theory that any M game is appropriate for a 10-year-old child, or that it is the only option for an engaging game for that child.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2008 @ 9:34pm

    Oh crap! Predators may move using cars! Let's legislate that too!

    Let's get the auto industry to sell to ELECTRIC CARS that can be TURNED OFF via remote control! Oh wait, the oil companies won't like that because there's 100 Trillion dollars of business yet to occur. Aint it great that Bushie is running the country like an oil company? And didn't he BANKRUPT the last oil company he worked for? They do say history repeats itself!

    Sorry for going off on a TANGENT

     

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  43.  
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    Lucretious, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 3:01am

    Re: Parents are at work

    So parents can't be with their kids 24/7 in order monitor them. Monitor them for what? Sex? Violence? Language?

    If your 11 yr old kid hears the word "fuck".....what is that going to do to him/her? NOTHING! If they decapitate what is basically a cartoon what will happen? NOTHING (if you believe sound scientific studies done by neutral parties). Sex? NOTHING. Generations of kids have been exposed to dads magazines and stag films with no ill effects (its usually the extremely repressive families that spawn sexual predators) My son and I have been gaming side-by-side since he was 8 and all its done is improve our relationship and communication with each other.....Halo included. Nothing "self-righteous" about it.

    Anyhow, whats your point? Do you want more government intervention on what should be a decision made by you, the parent? if so, are you really that spineless that you can't censor your own kids game time....you need big white daddy government who knows best to do it for you? Do you really think this kind of journalism is responsible?

    ANSWER ME DAM YOU!!

    ;)

     

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  44.  
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    I Win, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 5:25am

    LUL

    Those morons... most multiplayer games today ARE social networks.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    Re: We get signal.

    Friday was July 4th, a holiday in America. Techdirt doesn't post during American holidays.

     

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  46.  
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    Lucretious, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: @Parents are at work

    do you not see the problem with singling out things like "gaming" or social network sites when its been shown that those particular scapegoats are actually LESS "dangerous" than the local playground, school district etc?

    Are you that brain-dead that you can't see that the news organizations are simply demonizing these technologies because they know most parents don't understand their exact nature hence they can up the fear factor to bring in ratings? Are YOU aware that game consoles have had a lock-out function to keep your kids from the machines during unsupervised times for the past 2-3 generations of systems?

    BTW, if your work is keeping you from doing a proper job as a parent....you are NOT a "good" parent. Your intentions may be stellar but in reality your parenting blows. No banana sticker for you.

    Lastly, the world shouldn't have to be have every sharp edge removed because a minority of parents find it inconvenient to sit their ass down after dinner and try to understand something about the activities their wailing little tots participate in. Such people are turning entertainment in lukewarm, boring, "safe" pap and the media is only too happy to help with that endeavor.

     

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  47.  
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    chris (profile), Jul 7th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    Re: Parents are at work

    Techdirt has devolved into a circle jerk of people who seem to think the the Internet in unlike the real world -- a great place often ruined by the few awful people that chose to exploit it.

    no, the internet is exactly like the real world: packed to the brim with people that cry about being either too lazy or too stupid to protect themselves from the criminals that prey on them. the internet is a dark and sinister place full of mean spirited people, just like the real world... if you don't keep your wits about you someone will take advantage of you.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Cowherd, Jul 7th, 2008 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re: We get signal.

    Why the hell not? It posts in the middle of the night.

     

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  49.  
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    Anon, Jul 8th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    Solution

    Here is a solution...Have the parents PARENT!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2008 @ 10:14am

    Re: Re:

    We get comment. What

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anon, Sep 22nd, 2008 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re: TFA

    Not true. Violence is actually more prone to T rated games, unless they're "bloody" war games. And you can put porn pictures in Halo 3, but Bungie has already spotted this problem and is banning anyone who does this immediately. However the rating system is full of shit, and baseless stories. Btw, for anyone that knows anything about psychology: "Correlation is not causation." I'll just leave that there :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 9th, 2012 @ 5:49am

    War games you say . . .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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