There’s a story this morning that the government has asked for a study into the impact of ‘violent’ video games on children. I’m a little bit dubious about the decision to have Tanya Byron to head up the study. As the news coverage (but not the DCMS press releases) make clear Bryon is best known to the public as the resident expert on The House of Tiny Tearaways. Is it necessary to have a recognised TV presenter lead this sort of study?
Oddly it appears the same story was covered in September but with the focus more on the impact of the internet and porn.
Part of the study will “commission a literature review and analysis of current evidence on the effects of exposure to such material on children’s wellbeing and behaviour” but mostly the study will look at the effectiveness of regulations, parents concerns and childrens opinions so I’m not expecting any new evidence. Instead we can probably expect press releases in March that will pick which of conflicting existing research conclusions to focus on and use anedoctal evidence from parents to ‘give colour’ to the story.
(I’m also curious what they really mean by violence. Are they worried by my childhood destruction of robot after robot in Sonic the Hedgehog? Is this the same as picking up a prostitute in Grand Theft Auto, having (off-screen) sex with the her, and then beating her up and stealing her money? Actually, I don’t know the answer to this. Does it matter how ‘abstract’ the violence is?)