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Book of the week: Gunning for the admen

Kid Stuff: marketing sex and violence to America's children Edited by Diane Ravitch and Joseph P Viteritti Johns Hopkins University Press pound;22

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em? Last month, the OCR exam board launched a computer games option in its AS-level media studies course.

It includes the study of Vice City, a game that encourages players to create their own evil empire through violent means. Such a controversial move cuts to the heart of the debate about if and how far we should protect children from this 21st-century wave of marketing.

Some see television, video games, music, the internet and films as peddling addictive and poisonous wares designed to lure children to part with their souls and their money.

Others believe the message is less clear, arguing that most young people can divorce fantasy from reality. Yet most parents in the switched-on households of today say there is a war going on.

Children are having to filter messages about sex, violence and drugs daily. The trick is to protect and equip them without losing all communication.

So at first glance, this series of essays by American experts in media studies, psychology and health promises a useful exploration, and even some guidance.

Read the full review in this week's TES


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