By quinn norton (originally posted to Flickr as IMG_9887) via Wikimedia CommonsKids think they know their rights. Do they? Do you?

Parents guide their moral upbringing, direct their education, and, with some rare exceptions, are legally responsible for their children until they reach the age of 18. As young people gain responsibility, they increasingly acquire the rights and privileges of citizenship. Along these lines, the Supreme Court has never held that the protections in the Bill of Rights apply to minor children in the same way they apply to ordinary adult citizens. A recent post of ours mentioned a Supreme Court case from the state of California regarding a law regulating the sale of violent video games to minors and the controversy surrounding all sides of the debate.  The case brings up lots of  questions about the First Amendment, like whose rights are being challenged in this case–the minors’, the parents’, or the game producers’?

Our friends at the National Constitution Center recently published their own blog post about the issues surrounding video games, minors, and free speech and explained why laws banning the sale of violent video games are often ruled unconstitutional. The author, Professor Geoffrey R. Stone, wrote:

“Basically, the courts have reasoned that (a) minors have constitutional rights (even if they are not precisely coextensive with the rights of adults), (b) video games are protected First Amendment expression (they are artistic and they may reasonably be seen as interactive novels) … and (e) the responsibility for dealing with these issues properly rests with parents rather than with the government.”

What is your reaction? How should the rights of minors be understood and enforced by law? What arguments for or against the ban could be made by the following individuals/groups?
- minor children
- parents of minor children
- video game producers
- owners of video game stores
- members of society who believe violent video games cause children to act violently towards others

To learn more about Supreme Court cases involving the rights of young people, check out Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988).

If you’re interested in learning more about the First Amendment, you might try our Is it a First Amendment Issue? eLesson.

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One Response to “Should the government be allowed to regulate video game sales to minors?”

  1. [...] liberty, neither, or both? How should parental rights and responsibilities be balanced with the rights of minors? How is this the same or different from a parent’s decision to have a child’s ears [...]

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