In an annual report on video games, the National Institute on Media and the Family finds children are exposed to ever more bizarre and violent game-playing.
The latest ones glorify cop killing, rape, and mass murder. One popular game, "Grand Theft Auto," has players move ahead by running over prostitutes. Another rewards players who execute the most gruesome "kills."
The survey found children are playing so-called "killographic" games without their parents' knowledge, and playing them for longer periods of time. It even suggests a connection between game-playing, a mostly sedentary activity, and obesity, citing current statistics showing physical activity among children decreased 13 percent since 1990, while screen time has increased 33 percent.
Video games carry ratings, and no supposedly one under 16 is able to buy a "mature" game. But the Federal Trade Commission found more than two-thirds of underage teens could buy such violent video games.
While the instances of kids imitating digital violence are few, the effects of such games can be harmful in many ways. Parents need to guard kids from the worst games, starting with an understanding of the ratings. For their part, gamemakers should show some responsibility and produce games that are imaginative without being graphically violent.