Parents Are Helping Kids Get Violent Video Games

Robbing banks and shooting cops are just some of the disturbing images you can find in many of today's most popular video games. And that has many parents and consumer groups worried.

An influential family and media group, the National Institute on Media and the Family, issued its annual report card today on the most violent video games, but not everyone is convinced this batch of electronic games are a danger to society.

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman said, "Media violence can desensitize kids and make them more prone to violence."

Click here for the Ultimate Parents' Guide to Video Games


David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, said, "The fact that they're called video games -- I think that there are still some parents who really don't take it as seriously as they should."

The organization's annual report card, which aims to keep violent games out of the hands of kids under age 17, gives parents a C. Big retailers get a D.

Click here to see the 2007 MediaWise Video Game Report Card.

The institute conducted 58 sting operations and found almost half the time, children as young as 12 could buy games rated M for "mature" -- intended for kids 17 and older.

But do violent video games pose a real threat? Do they influence kids to commit acts of real violence?

"I find it a good way to relieve stress by playing those games," 14-year-old Charles Moreland said. "It's fiction, so I mean, in violence books and horror books like Stephen King writes, it's the same thing."

When asked if he'd heard of Manhunt 2 -- a game so violent it's banned in Great Britain -- Moreland piped up, "That's one of the games on my Christmas list."

Thirteen-year-old Robin Smith says he could see why some experts are concerned about the effect of violent games on kids. But the issue, he said, isn't exposure but the overexposure that is causing problems.

Smith concedes that prolonged use of video games could be detrimental. "After a long time, maybe, but I don't think it would have an immediate effect. Like, I wouldn't go out and shoot someone -- no."

Another 13-year-old consumer, Gabriel Swanson, said of purchasing violent games, "You can get them really easily. But your parents might not buy them for you -- but that doesn't mean you can't get them."

The risk, experts say, is with kids who are not as socially and psychologically well-balanced as those who spoke with ABC News. But as the experts also point out, those kids who are not well-balanced often also suffer from much bigger problems than exposure to video games.