Leicester MP urges debate on the 'harmful' effect of violent computer games
An MP has called for a debate on the "harmful" effect of violent computer games at a time when many parents are considering buying them as Christmas presents for their children.
Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, who is chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told the House of Commons yesterday that research by academics in America had shown that playing the games led to "physical changes" in the brain.
Mr Vaz said his call for MPs to debate the issue was aimed at protecting children and was not about censorship.
Following his comments, Commons leader Sir George Young said he would alert Home Secretary Theresa May to Mr Vaz's concerns.
Mr Vaz told the Mercury: "I am very concerned that as Christmas approaches, parents may be thinking of putting violent video games under the tree for their children.
"As the research published this week by the Indiana School of Medicine shows, violent video games can have a physical effect on the brain after just one week of playing them."
The MP was referring to research published last week by the Indiana University School of Medicine which showed that playing violent computer games affected parts of the brain which are important in controlling emotion and aggressive behaviour.
Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine carried out a study on 28 men, aged 18 to 29, who underwent brain scans while they completed a variety of tasks.
Mr Vaz has also called on the Government to implement the recommendations of a 2008 report by psychologist Tanya Byron, commissioned by the Labour Government, which called for stricter parental controls over some video games.
Dr Richard Wilson, chief executive officer of TIGA, the trade association which represents the UK's games industry, said: "The important thing to remember is most video games are not violent.
"The average age of video game players is late 20s and, therefore, it is right to have some games geared towards adult players.
"The Government report by Tanya Byron did not conclude young children who play violent games become de-sensitised to violence.
"It said more research was needed in the area.
"There is a rating system for games to make sure young people do not play violent games and the industry takes the regulation of games very seriously.''