New data collected from a poll of 2,000 parents with children under 18 shows that an alarming number of children are consuming media like video games, movies, and social media well under the recommended or rated ages.  The study, conducted by O2 media, showed that kids were regularly allowed to play games with an 18+ rating at ages as young as 14.  The Independent reports that this phenomenon is evident across all forms of media as well as major social and developmental milestones and ages.  Basically, kids are growing up too fast - and if you are a parent, you just might be the one making it happen.  The list of "grown-up" things kids are being allowed to do at a younger and younger age (like wearing high-heels, consuming media meant for 18+, and having a girlfriend) is staggering.

I have a 10 year old, and if I had a dollar for every time he has asked to play Grand Theft Auto or some other ultra-violent, hyper-sexualized video game meant for adults - I'd be rich enough to buy the company that makes it.  Obviously, he's way to young to understand the line between what happens in the game and real life.  Not in a "steal a car and commit multiple felonies across state lines," type of way, more of a "casual use of the A-word," type of way.  Because of the occasional nonchalant cussing, I know that the boy isn't even close to being ready for a game like that.

For parents that aren't as video game savvy as myself (probably due to "more productive" things to spend their time on), the Entertainment Software Rating Board grades each game according to ages the material within is acceptable for.  While I agree that what the ESRB suggests is a good guideline, I think the choice should be made by an informed parent.