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The Effect of Video Games on Children (page 2)

By — Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Updated on Feb 18, 2011

Tips on managing your child's media consumption

Because of the popularity of video games, completely eliminating them from your child's life might be difficult. But there are a number of suggestions for decreasing the negative impact that they might have on your child. Here are a few tips:

  • Know the rating of the video games your child plays (see below).
  • Do not install video game equipment in your child's bedroom.
  • Set limits on how often and how long your child is allowed to play video games.
  • Monitor all of your child's media consumption -- video games, television, movies and Internet.
  • Supervise your child's Internet use -- there are now many "video games" available for playing online.
  • Take the time to discuss with your children the games they are playing or other media they are watching. Ask your children how they feel about what they observe in these video games, television programs or movies. This is an opportunity to share your feelings and grow closer with your child.
  • Share with other parents information about certain games or ideas for helping each other in parenting. 

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA). The major video game manufacturers created this board after concerned groups and parents applied pressure over the content of video games. Similar to the movie industry's rating system, all major game companies now submit their new products for rating to specially trained raters at the ESRB. The ESRB rates over 1,000 games per year.

The ESRB looks at a number of factors when rating games. In particular, it considers the amount of violence, sex, controversial language and substance abuse found in a game. Based on its developed guidelines, the ESRB then gives an age recommendation and content descriptor to each game submitted. The following are the rating symbols currently in use, according to the ESRB Web site.

Early Childhood (EC): Content should be suitable for children 3 years and older and contain no objectional material.

Everyone (E): Content suitable for persons ages 6 and older. The game may contain minimal violence and some "comic mischief."

Teen (T): Content suitable for persons ages 13 and older. Content is more violent than (E) rating and contains mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.

Mature (M): Content suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Content definitely has more mature sexual themes, intense violence and stronger language.

Adults Only (AO): Content suitable only for adults and may contain graphic sex and/or violence. Adult Only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.

Rating Pending (RP): Game has been submitted to the ESRB and is awaiting a final rating.

The ESRB Web site has more details about this rating system, as well as the "content descriptors" that are used in conjunction with the ratings on game packaging. The site is also useful for parents who want to search for the rating of a particular game.

References

Bushman, B. & Anderson, C. (2002). Violent Video Games and Hostile Expectations: A Test of the General Aggression Model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1679-1686.

Gentile, D. A. & Anderson, C. A. (2003). Violent video games: The newest media violence hazard. In D. A. Gentile (Ed.), Media violence and children. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishing.

Gentile, D. A., Lynch, P., Linder, J. & Walsh, D. (2004). The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 5-22.

Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit. (July 26, 2000.) Available: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/ releases/jstmtevc.htm, Accessed 9/2004

Walsh, D. (2000). Interactive violence and children: Testimony submitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate. (March 21, 2000.) Available: http://commerce.senate.gov/ hearings/0321wal1.pdf (Acrobat), Accessed 9/2004

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