It's absolutely the responsibility of the parents, not the government, just like most everything else regarding computer usage like protecting kids form inappropriate web sites.
Parents know their kids best of all, not the FCC or US senators. They know their kids' maturity level, unique situation, and are the only ones suitable to monitor them personally.
The fact is all kids are different. Some 13-14 year olds are very mature and M rated games wouldn't have any adverse affect on them. Some 16-17 year olds might not be. And of course there all kind of other variables, like if their child plays games responsibly and is well-adjusted, or if he/she has a tendency to use it to escape reality rather than deal with actual problems. And of course rating a game depends on many factors and is highly subjective depending on what the particular rating organization looks for. It's not effective or fair for the government to simply use such an arbitrary system and then say, for example, that all kids under 17 are banned from a certain game just because an ESRB panel said so.
One other thing, depending on the government for a "nanny state" and to do jobs parents are supposed to do, is a slippery slope that has great potential to erode civil liberties.
Once it gets into regulating video games, then it'll be the web, then maybe you have to put in a credit card or other ID to access 'forbidden' web sites to prove you're 18 or older(which of course is then stored and leads back to you), then it records everything everyone does on the web in the name of "protecting children" like the Republicans want to do. Of course, immoral and power-hungry politicians will also seek to use this for political purposes and maybe declare other political views "subversive" and innappropriate for kids (like when Fox news pundits always warn against these evil "liberal" high school and college teachers who commit the great crime of, say, criticizing Bush and his policies or have students question the government). Even if this doesn't happen, it's best to leave parenting to parents in the first place.
Finally, and most importantly, I think this whole issue is extremely over-rated. There isn't any actual evidence whatsoever linking video games to criminal behavior, in fact during the same time video games became popular young people and children became statistically less violent. When I was younger like 12-13 I played violent, M-rated games and have never thought of killing someone or using violence in real life. Same thing with many of my friends. In fact, movies and to a lesser extent TV are MUCH worse than this, but video games are singled out because older politicians fear what they don't understand, and because many parents don't either they can use it as a scapegoat. Politicians don't want to study and fix harder and more complex issues like a failing public school system, gangs in poor areas, or any of the many other REAL problems facing America. P
Congressman like Joe Liebermann, IMHO, just want to distract people from the fact that they are failures at about everything, and so they just want to look good and show how supportive they are of traditional family values to get votes. Why have the courage to challenge unconstitutional spying, or bother thinking up a sound plan to get out of Iraq, when you can rant about how video games are destroying America?!
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