March 11th, 2011

Parents face challenges in keeping kids from violent video games

Tampa Bay Online

The first level in the wildly popular video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops” requires players to storm a fortress, mow down guards with a barrage of machine-gun fire, then assassinate Fidel Castro as he holds a scantily clad woman hostage.

Michael Evdemon, 11, wants to play the mature-rated game. His mother, Laura Evdemon, won’t let him.

He mentions “Call of Duty” every day. His friends are playing it and he feels left out, he tells his mother. Michael, a history buff, talks about the game’s Cold War-era setting. He mentions an option to turn off the blood and gore.

And if he’s not old enough to play the game at age 11, he argues, he will be next year when he’s 12, right?

“Or at least 14 or 15,” Michael said. “I think I’ll be mature then.”

Not a chance, his mom says.

“He’s really, really trying to negotiate these mature-rated games,” Laura Evdemon said. “It’s a challenge, but I’ve absolutely put my foot down.”

Welcome to video wars, where the real-life battle is kids vs. parents, not gamers vs. bad guys.

Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to select games with content appropriate for children and monitor their kids’ playing habits.

Today’s high-tech home gaming consoles pump out graphics that realistically depict blood and gore. Violent shooting games have skyrocketed in popularity, and it’s become the norm for gamers to meet others online and play against them.

Melissa Ryan of Tampa said she was not expecting to monitor the video game habits of her son, Michael, so closely.

“How did we ever get involved in this level of negotiation?” Ryan said. “We’re already overwhelmed with monitoring what kids do.”

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