The rating system that parents are using to identify age-appropriate games for their children may not be appropriate at all.

A Kaiser Family Foundation study on video games in 2002 reported that:

Prevalence

  • 92% of children aged 2-17 play video games and 1/3 of children have a video-game player in their bedroom.
  • Major studies show that children play, on average, between 20-33 minutes a day playing video games.
  • On any given day, 30% of all kids will play a video game and those who do spend over an hour doing so, on average.
  • 44% of boys play video game, compared to 17% of girls.
  • Kids tend to play video games alone.
  • Among children aged 8-18, children of Africa-American or Hispanic descent and those from low and middle income groups spend more time playing video games than their White or upper-income counterparts.

Content

  • 89% of the top-selling video games contain violence.
  • Most video game characters are male.
  • 87% of heroes are White. In fact, in the seven top-selling games specifically designed for children, all the human characters were White.

Effects

  • Interactive games can improve spatial visualization and visual attention. Practicing spatial skills with video games can reduce differences in these skills among boys and girls.
  • 26% of kids acknowledge that their gaming sometimes interferes with homework and academic performance.
  • Volent video games may be linked with physical and verbal aggression and feelings of hostility. They may also decrease prosocial helping behaviour.

Video Game Rating

  • Parents often disagreed with the Entertainment Software Rating Board's game ratings, finding that 33% of games rating for "Everyone" to be questionable/unsuitable for 3-12 year olds.
  • Parents also found that 57% of the "Teen" rated games were objectionable for 13-17 year olds.

Recommendations

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit children's screen time to 2 hours per day, keep media out of the bedrooms and eliminate violent games from the household.

 

For fun, educational and curriculum-linked games that you can trust, check out TVOKids.com

For more information on the study check out www.kff.org/entmedia/loader.cfm