The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Joshi war on war games and toys

New Delhi, Dec. 9: Thinking of buying your little boy a toy gun' How about Ludo, or something non-violent'

If Murli Manohar Joshi has his way, combat toys and computer war games will soon be things of the past. The human resource development minister today told the Rajya Sabha he would soon explore the possibility of banning such violent forms of entertainment.

“I plan to talk to the information and broadcasting ministry about it,” he said, responding to deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah’s suggestion of banning toys and video games that distort the mindset of children.

The suggestion came after Joshi had introduced in the House a charter of demands to safeguard children’s rights. “I have a suggestion to make in this regard — a suggestion I have already made at the UN fora,” Heptullah said. “For the last 10 years, I have been trying to get a ban on war toys and war video games.”

Joshi nodded, but said a ban will not be easy to impose. “The manufacturers want to make money with war games,” he said.

According to analysts, it would be “impossible” to impose such a ban. “To get children off such entertainment, you first have to have a wider consumer education,” said Akhila Sivadasan of the Centre for Advocacy and Research.

Dr Jitendra Nagpal, a psychologist with a neurological institute, felt that banning was not the solution. “Very often, children gain in self-esteem and confidence by playing these games,” he said. But the psychologist agreed that any form of violent entertainment “trigger aggressive volatile impulses” and the “images easily translate to real life situations”.

A study by the Centre for Advocacy and Research on children between six and 14 in five cities showed children move from one form of entertainment dealing with violent subjects to another with “great ease”. “It is not one but multiple forms of entertainment — like cinema, television, serials, toys, cartoons and video games — all of which converge to make a violent mindset,” Sivadasan said.

Heptullah talked of how the rampant gun culture has taken a heavy toll of American school students. One of the most tragic examples was the Columbine High School massacre in which two teenagers killed 13 people before turning the gun on themselves.

In April, Washington state’s senate passed a bill that would institute a fine of up to $500 on retail employees who sell violent video games to anyone under 17.

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