Leeland Yee: Parents should be able to control what kids watch

An editorial penned by California State Senator and anti-game crusader Leeland Yee says that parents should be able to control what kids watch, but how parents come to that conclusion is the probably a sticky subject for many of our readers.

In the editorial Yee says that California has "been hard at work trying to protect children from the harmful effects of excessively violent video games. In the Legislature, we have attempted to give greater authority to parents in determining which video games are appropriate for their children."

He is of course speaking of the law they passed five years ago that was ultimately struck down by the courts shortly thereafter:

"In 2005, I authored a law to prohibit the sale of extremely violent video games to minors. The video game industry immediately sued the state, preventing the law from being enforced. The law has since been litigated all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, with justices expected to make a ruling in the spring."

Yee goes on top talk about various studies "by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association" that conclude that "adolescents who play violent video games may become increasingly aggressive over time."

Naturally, Yee doesn’t mention the data on the other end of the spectrum that comes to contrary conclusions about playing games and agressive behavior.

Finally after quoting SCTOUS justices that were supportive of California’s position, Yee says that he is hopeful:

"I am hopeful that a majority of justices will agree that parents – not retailers or game makers – should determine which video games are appropriate for kids. A ruling in favor California’s law will not only ensure that parents make such decisions, but will help protect our children in the years to come."

You can read the entiure editorial here.

Commentary: Edirtotials may sway public opinion on a subject, but it is rare that they sway the courts. Besides, the piublic is much more concerned about staggering levels of unemployment and run-away spending in California, than it is about passing a law to do a job that is already being done by retailers and the ESRB ratings system.

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  1. Shahab says:

    You can’t legislate parental control. There are pirated games, friend’s houses, etc. Parents can mostly control what happens in their house, they can have discussions with their children which games they want them to play, which they don’t, and why, but in the end there is only so much control you can exert over someone.

    If I thought Yee was motivated by a genuine desire to empower parents then I wouldn’t be so critical of his poorly concieved attempts to legislate these issues, but I think it is clear he wants to garner votes with parents who fear a new medium they didn’t grow up with and don’t understand and want to protect their children from, whether or not they are actually dangerous.

    In the end I think our judicial system has done a good job of protecting 1st amendment rights here and like all other such attempts his is bound to fail. My challenge to these people is to introduce similar legislation aimed at violent movies and TV shows and music with violent lyrics. The principle is exactly the same. Of course people are familiar and comfortable with those mediums and would not support such legislation.

    When the Supreme Court eventually rules in favor of the entertainment industry I hope that will put an end to such legislation attempts. The average age of gamers continues to rise, currently the children’s market makes up only ~25% of the total market for videogames.

  2. Requiem Of Forgotten Lore says:

    Because the vagueness in the proposed law says "violent," which puts it anywhere between Slaughterhouse and the old (B&W) Looney Toons.  It’s completely subjective, yet treated as objective by this government law.  And if the industry gets fined for every game on the shelf that is deemed “violent” by Yee’s standards, then no one will want to produce a game and investors will back out in fear of loss in their RoI.  Then companies will be forced to fold, move to another country or produce puzzle-like games.

    It’s like this:  I tell you that you can choose to go to any place in the world.  I then go pass a law to remove places that you get to choose from because I think they’re too dangerous.  However, I then say that this law that I just passed is designed to give you more power in your choice.

    So did I, in fact, give you more power by limiting your choice?  Or did I devalue your freedom of choice, your judgment and your ability to make a decision?

  3. Monolith says:

    How would vagueness affect whether or not a parent could decide which game to pick off the shelf for their children? Are you saying because there wouldn’t be any games left to choose from?

  4. Requiem Of Forgotten Lore says:

    Because the wording is so vague in the bill that it removes those games at the corporate level by causing companies to question whether or not they’ll be fined for releasing a game.  This will also cause investors to start backing out if it’s ruled in CA’s favor.

    My take on his law is that he thinks he’s enforces the parent’s ability to choose, by removing their ability to choose.  If taken to the extreme (which isn’t farfetched for a government) it’s very similar to how VIKI interpreted the 3 Laws of Robotics (i, Robot); to protect humanity she must save it from itself… by enslaving it though Martial Law.

  5. edmoss87 says:

    I covered ATMs. I don’t know the specifics of how ATMs are programmed, it may or may not be a simple case of a boolean variable. However, point-of-sale cashback is another world entirely, the card would identify it as a regular transaction; ruling it out completely would be difficult, if possible at all.

  6. BearDogg-X says:

    Leland Yee continues to prove himself to be a blithering, redundant idiot who loses credibility every time he opens his mouth. Gee, kinda like the Metropolitian Moron of Miami.

    Hard at work doing what, exactly, Mr. Yee? Wasting taxpayer money while California will go completely bankrupt next year according to financial analyst Meredith Whitney?

    Parents already do control what their crotch-fruit watch, they don’t need and never needed help from your worthless ass.

    California will lose in the Supreme Court, no doubt about it. Deal with it, Mr. Yee, as it’s become more and more pathetic that you whine and cry about the courts rejecting your precious piece of shit law like an overzealous Minnesota Vikings fan still whining and moaning about last season’s NFC Championship Game.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra. Hell will stay frozen over for quite a while since the Saints won the Super Bowl.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  7. Uncharted NES says:

    Speaking of that bitch Phyllis Schlafly, we need to control these so-called attempted laws. There are too way too many claims these days, and fear has allow them to have teeth. Even worse, each claim and victory is only encouraging these cockroach vermin to come of the woodwork and continue to take away OUR common sense and freedoms. Which is worse, a police state or nanny state? If we don’t start protesting this, we’ll get an answer to that scary question real quick, I promise you that.


    GamePolitics, it’s time for a mobile version of the site, don’t you think?

  8. edmoss87 says:

    That might be a good idea, but what about cash withdrawals? If the minor takes out cash, there will naturally be no record of where it was spent. Disallowing cash withdrawals using such a card would be difficult; sure, you might be able to rule out ATMs, but what about cashback from retailers? A $60 cash withdrawal on the statement might raise the alarm with parents, I suppose it’s better than nothing.

  9. Nerd42 says:

    Wel ya know far as I’m concerned the way to fix this has nothing to do with videogames and eveyrthing to do with money. Banks should make debit cards for minors that tell parents exactly what they spend their money on when they spent it and that would be that I guess.

  10. Cheater87 says:

    So he wants to outlaw violent games so parents can have control over content. 0_o No that doesn’t sound like government censorship at all.

  11. Kincyr says:

    WIN! Yee just got his proverbial ass handed to him on a silver platter

    岩「if Phyllis Schlafly wants to undo Women’s Rights, she should lead by example and get back in the kitchen」

  12. Papa Midnight says:

    I’d personally like to introduce Mr. Yee to this radically new technology called the V-Chip.

    Since we’re on the subject of new features, how about the fact that every single DVD Player has a parental code lockout, as does every single digital cable / satellite set-top-box, and video game console made in the past 5 years.

    My sarcasm is complete.

    Papa Midnight

  13. HarmlessBunny says:

    "I am hopeful that a majority of justices will agree that parents – not retailers or game makers – should determine which video games are appropriate for kids"

    Sorry to inform you Lee, but it is current already the parents who determine. You aren’t giving them help, but trying to pass a law that will be taking away their ability to choose what their child can have and replacing it with government regulation. The government tells what is appropriate or not, and that can change depending on the mood of the day…

    I’m sorry but isn’t all the data he is spewing about it causing aggression still up in the air and has been in dispute for a long time? I would like to see this proof of his, if it exists.

    That…and I am starting to think he is stuck in a void where logic and common sense seem not to apply to normal events and ideas.


    James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

  14. CMiner says:

    "In the Legislature, we have attempted to give greater authority to parents in determining which video games are appropriate for their children."


    Parents already have the ultimate authority.  They’re the parents.

  15. Erik says:

    "I am hopeful that a majority of justices will agree that parents – not retailers or game makers – or the government – should determine which video games are appropriate for kids."

    Fixed that for you.


    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  16. Zerodash says:

    OK, I’m beginning to think that Yee might very well be a crazy person.

    Parents, as it stands now, do not have a law stating that they control what their kids watch- exactly what will change should his legislation get passed?  Parents would have just as much control over their households afterward.

    And exactly HOW are these media companies and retailers making the decisions on what kids watch?  Yee is making an extraordinary claim, and needs to demonstrate through what process these entities are bypassing parental authority and placing this media before kids.  Last time I checked, parents are not only the ones with control over what is coming into their homes, but they also have authority over their kids as well as the MONEY that is needed to buy this media.  


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