Do you remember that time you wanted to watch that horror movie but were told you couldn't because you were too young but you did anyway? Or that time you told your folks that the game you wanted wasn't violent and all the other kids are playing it? Maybe you even sneaked a copy somewhere and went to play it without anyone knowing.
No matter your experience with age restrictions, at some point we have most likely played or watched something we were not suppose to because the age restriction on the package told us we couldn't, along with strict instructions from our parents. Or at least, they should have said something, surely? Having worked as a Cinema Manager I use to get parents coming with their kids to age restricted movies where the kids are too young, telling me that they are the parents and they will decide what their kids may or may not watch, and that it isn't my place to tell them what they can or can't do. Now, in dealing with this simple mindedness we must ask ourselves as to the importance that Age restrictions play in this modern society of ours. As time has gone on, I think movies and gaming have pushed the limits in violence and graphical content.
So in light of this, standardised authorities have implemented stricter restrictions. Are these fair? Most people I speak to say "The kids see sex and violence everywhere anyway, so what’s the difference"? With thoughts like that, it’s no wonder things have deteriorated in the entertainment industries, and blame shifted not to parents or government but to the industries making the movies or games.
We are all aware that gaming is on the forefront of people's minds in regard to violent behaviour in children. I myself am a parent and I can assure you my son, under my guidance, will never watch or play something that isn't age appropriate. But I cannot watch him 24/7. There are other adults that need to be responsible enough to shelter him from the things that his little eyes should not see. So are parents to blame? No, not entirely. We cannot shift blame to one focus point without having to look at the bigger picture. We have become so accustomed to sex and violence, and yes we see it almost every day, so it becomes almost the norm. But that is us, adults - over 21 years of age (Although from 18 you are pretty much there). We must focus on what we need to do to stop acts, that are attributed to gaming and movies, which needs to start in every aspect of a child's life. I had played Duke Nukem, Wolvenstein and Doom so many times in my early teens, I swear that babes, swastikas and monsters shaped my little beady eyes, but never ever have I taken it upon myself to re-enact such behaviour. If I did, my mother would have slapped 10 years off my life. So these kids, these children that look to their peers for guidance, and for leadership and care should be encouraged to do what is right, and we must set the example.
We cannot turn around and blame each other, but rather find the solution to where such issues have arisen from. This isn't to say that parents are the main culprits or that the main reason for this behaviour is their fault. No, as some kids are born with potential mental issues. So, I ask the question based on what I have said here.
Do you think age restrictions are important? Or do you, like so many, think - "What’s the point"?
If we don't start with ourselves to identify issues in the future, then government officials with radical points of view, as well as the bible preaching parents of the world are going to continuously point fingers at the industries we hold so dear. Now maybe it doesn't matter to you what age restrictions are put onto games and movies because you are already an adult, but think about how the future of these industries you love will be affected for your kids. Don't you want them to experience and derive the same pleasures you do from gaming and movies? I know I want my son to.
You know the saying "When you start pointing your finger, remember that there are 3 pointing back at you (cause my thumb faces forward so essentially I'm pointing 2 fingers at you)". It is so true and we need to ensure we protect the youth and that is why I feel that age restrictions can be valuable, and are important. I hope that in time others will appreciate this and act accordingly. But this is only how I feel about it. I would love to hear my fellow gamers' views about this, so please drop me a comment.
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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd