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Media Violence

Introduction || Ratings Issues || Video Games  
Movies || Television || Additional Resources

Video Games

Fact Sheets and Statistics


  • More than 70 percent of American teenage boys have played the violent and adult-rated Grand Theft Auto video game, and those teens are more likely to have been in a fight than those who have not played, according to a new Gallup poll quoted in the Washington Post.
  • "Learning happens," Harvard School of Public Health researcher Kimberly Thompson told the  Boston Globe, speaking about the lessons children learn from violent video games.  "I fear we are growing a society of alienated, aggressive, untrusting adults," adds media research Joanne Cantor.  The article gives some details about HR 669, a bill pending in Congress which would make it illegal to sell ultra-violent video games to children.  This bill, introduced by Representative Joe Baca of California , "makes good sense," writes Globe columnist Barbara Meltz.  "E-mail your congressman today."
  • The Lion & Lamb Project participated in a briefing on Capitol Hill on May 14, and premiered a new 10-minute videotape showing the unprecedented levels of violence in the video games marketed to children today. The briefing was sponsored by Congressman Joe Baca (D-CA) and Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA). CNN, Good Morning America and numerous newspapers covered the event.  You can read the CNN interview here.
  • A recent Dateline expose shows just how easy it is for underage children to purchase adult-rated video games such as Grand Theft Auto, even at stores that allegedly have a system for checking age identification. Two years after a dramatic Federal Trade Commission report found that adult-rated entertainment products are pervasively and aggressively being marketed to children, 80 percent of the minors who attempted to buy Mature-rated products were still able to do so.
  • For the first time ever, the National Institute on Media and the Family gave the video game industry a failing grade in its annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card.  "The best selling games of the past year glorify and reward extreme violence, particularly toward women," the report notes.  "While these games are rated M (Mature), they are extremely popular with pre-teen and teenage boys who report no trouble buying them.
  • Does the First Amendment give video game manufacturers the right to sell adult-rated, violent video games to children?  A Boston Globe article examines arguments in a U.S. Court of Appeals case brought by the industry against a St. Louis County ordinance that restricts minors' access to violent video games.  Lion & Lamb's position is quoted in the article..
  • The Washington Post also ran a story about Grand Theft Auto as well as other Mature-rated video games played by teens, called For Young Fans, the Name of the Video Game is Gore.  "Violence gets marketed like apple pie," Lion & Lamb told the Post.  "It is sold to boys as cool, and if you come out and speak against it, then you are uncool."

  • Lion & Lamb Executive Director Daphne White appeared on the July 22 Phil Donahue show on MSNBC, to discuss the marketing of violent video games to children.

  • explores the role of violence in video games in Do Videogames Kill?
  • Marketing Violence to Children, an article by Lion & Lamb's Executive Director Daphne White, appeared in The Washington Post in August 2000 detailing the ways in which adult video games are marketed to young children.
  • Playing violent video games can increase aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior, say researchers in the BBC News article, Video Games 'Increase Aggression.' They warn that violent video games may be more harmful than violent television or films because they are interactive, and require the player to identify with the aggressive character.
  • A scientific study suggests that the less children play video games, or watch television, the less aggressive they become, reports the BBC.

Court Decision

  • A U.S. District Court judge upheld an ordinance in St. Louis County, MO that requires parental consent before minors can purchase or rent adult-rated video games. The judge clearly saw through the hypocrisy of the video game industry when he ruled that: Non-violent video games can be purchased and played by everyone. According to plaintiffs, that is the majority of video games. Violent video games can be purchased and played by all those over seventeen, which according to plaintiffs are the majority of the purchasers. Violent video games can also be purchased and played by those under the age of seventeen if the parents have given their consent. So in practice, the video game industry is only restricted in conveying their violent message to those under seventeen years of age whose parents do not want their children viewing and/or playing that particular type of game.


  • National Institute on Media and The Family
    This site features KidScore, an innovative and family-friendly ratings system for video and computer games as well as movies.


  • The Influence of Media Violence on Youth by Craig Anderson, Leonard Berkowitz, Edward Donnerstein, L. Rowell Huessman, James D. Johnson, Daniel Linz, Neil Malamuth and Ellen Wartella in  Psychological Science in the Public Interest, December 2003.
    (This paper was written by an eight-member expert panel put together by the National Institute of Mental Health, and should have been included in the 2000 Surgeon General's report on youth violence.  Since the Surgeon General decided not to include this paper as a chapter in his report, the authors have now updated their findings and published them independently in a peer-reviewd journal.)
  • Aggressive Youths, Violent Video Games Trigger Unusual Brain Acticity  by the Indiana University School of Medicine, December 2, 2002. The study discusses how exposure to violent media may affect the brains of youths with aggressive tendencies differently than the brains of non-aggressive youths.
  • What Goes In Must Come Out: Children's Media Violence Consumption at Home and Aggressive Behaviors at School by Audrey M. Buchanan, Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., David A. Nelson, Ph.D., David A. Walsh, Ph.D., and Julia Hensel in Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Vol. 23. Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Inc.
    For a quick summary, you can read the press release about the study.
  • Children and Violent Video Games: Are There "High Risk" Players? by Jeanne B. Funk, a paper presented at Playing by the Rules, the Cultural Policy Challenges of Video Games Conference organized by the University of Chicago Cultural Policy Center, October 26-27, 2001.
  • Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior by Craig A. Anderson and Brad J. Bushman in Psychological Science, Vol 12, No. 5, September 2001.
  • A Validity Test of Movie, Television and Video-Game Ratings by David Walsh, Ph.D. and Douglas Gentile, Ph.D. in Pediatrics, Vol. 107, No. 6, June 2001. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free, to view this article.)
  • Effects of Reducing Children's Television  and Video Game Use on Aggressive Behavior -- Stanford University Study  by Dr. Thomas Robinson in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, January 2001.
    You can also read an AP news story on the Stanford study.
  • Popular Video Games: Assessing the Amount and Context of Violence by Ken Lachlan, Stacy L. Smith, and Ron Tamborini, a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Communication Association in Seattle, WA, Nov 9-12, 2000.
  • Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in the Laboratory and in Life by Craig A. Anderson in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 78, No. 4, April 2000.
    You can also read an APA Press Release about the study.


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