11th Annual MediaWise® Video Game Report Card Commends Big Box Retailers and Game Console Manufacturers, Says Parents Must Do Better and More Research Needed on Effects of Games
Washington, D.C. — The National Institute on Media and the Family, the nation’s leading resource on the effects of media and video games on children, today released its 11th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card in Washington, D.C. This year’s MediaWise Video Game Report Card highlights major improvements in big box retailer enforcement and policies; commends responsible retailers and game console makers for video game safeguards; and recommends additional research on positive and negative effects and uses of video games related to school performance, children’s health and behavioral development.
Joined by Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), David Walsh, Ph.D., president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, presented the 11th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card which issued grades to parents, retailers, video game console manufacturers and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). While improvements have been made by the video game industry and retailers, parental involvement received an “Incomplete” as surveys showed too few parents following the ESRB’s ratings and parental controls on gaming consoles.
“While retailers like Target and Best Buy and game console manufacturers like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have made great strides in educating parents on the rating system and installing parental controls on their products, many parents have not followed or used these tools to prevent their kids from playing inappropriate video games,” Dr. Walsh said. “We parents need to pay more attention to the games our kids are playing and how much time they are spending playing games.”
Studies continue to show that prolonged game play can adversely affect a child’s physical health and school performance as well as social and behavioral skills. A new study has found almost half of all “heavy gamers” are six- to 17-years-old. Children who spend more time playing video games are heavier, and are more likely to be classified as overweight or obese. The amount of time a child plays video games is correlated with poorer grades in school and attention problems.
“If there is a simple message we can give to parents, it is this — ‘watch what your kids watch, play what your kids play,’” continued Dr. Walsh.
Other areas of special concern highlighted in the 11th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card include: a retailer survey that shows specialty game retailers failed to prevent kids from purchasing M-rated video games; the surprisingly easy access to M-rated video games through major retailers’ online Web sites; and further evidence linking childhood obesity to the amount of time a child plays video games. Similar to previous years, the Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card provides parents a list of recommended video games and games to avoid.
The National Institute on Media and the Family is an independent, non-partisan, non-sectarian, nonprofit organization. The Institute’s mission is to maximize the benefits and minimize the harm mass media have on children through research and education. For more information, visit www.mediawise.org on the Web or call 1-888-672-5437.
11th Annual MediaWise® Video Game Report Card
Parents Can No Longer Ignore Their Children’s Video Game Habits
As the world of video games continues to evolve, parents are falling behind. As we found last year, this year’s parental survey uncovered an alarming gap between what kids say about the role of video games in their lives and what parents are willing to admit. Perhaps parents are reluctant to confess how little they attempt to control the amount of time their kids spend in front of the screen. This much is certain: too many of us do not seem to exercise enough control. The amount of time kids spend playing video games is on the rise.
A Public Health Crisis Continues to Grow
The necessity of parental involvement becomes apparent when examining the diverse set of health problems linked to inappropriate video game play. The latest research and anecdotal reports link video games to health issues affecting the bodies and minds of an ever-widening population.
The Need for Additional Research and Next Steps
As the health crises besetting our children continue to grow, and as the industry continues to expand, the need for additional research becomes ever more apparent. Only by overcoming our ignorance and filling in the gaps of our understanding about the impact of video games on children will we be able to determine how to address the problems we already face and the ones we foresee.
MediaWise Parent and Student Survey Results
Data for this year’s Parent and Student Surveys were gleaned from an ongoing study of Switch®, a new program created by the National Institute on Media and the Family. The Switch program is designed to promote healthy lifestyles as well as measure behavior relating to fitness levels, nutritional choices, and screen time usage. Our longitudinal study with 1,430 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students and their parents is currently ongoing.
How often does a parent/do you:
• play computer or video games with you/your child? 26% 42%
• talk to you about the video games you play? 5% 51%
• help decide what video games you may buy/rent? 1% 25%
• have to ask permission before playing video games? 10% 39%
Does your family have rules about how much you may play? 62% 36%
Does your family have rules about when you may play video games? 68% 36%
MediaWise Video Game Report Card Summary and Highlights
Parental Involvement INCOMPLETE
Ratings Education B
Retailer Policies B
Big Retailers A
Specialty Stores F
Console Manufacturers A
Recommendations for Improvements
1. The industry should eliminate the double messages to parents and educate them about why it is important to monitor game play and observe the ratings.
2. Specialty game stores should follow the lead of the major retailers who have fulfilled their commitment not to sell M- or Adults Only-rated games to youth.
3. There should be a universal, independent rating system.
4. More attention should be paid to the emerging problem of video game addiction.
5. Kids’ bedrooms should be media-free zones.
6. Parents need to supervise their children’s game playing more closely.
Follow the ratings.
Use Parental Controls.
Put your kids on a media diet.
Set limits and be willing to say “no.”
Watch what your kids watch, play what your kids play.
2006 Buying Guide for Parents
Game Lists Ratings
Parent Alert! Games to Avoid for your Children and Teens
• Gangs of London M
• The Sopranos M
• Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories M
• Reservoir Dogs M
• Mortal Kombat: Unchained M
• Scarface: The World is Yours M
• The Godfather: Mob Wars M
• Saints Row M
• Dead Rising M
• Just Cause M
MediaWise Recommended Games for Children and Teens
• LEGO Star Wars II – The Original Trilogy E 10+
• Mario Hoops 3 on 3 E
• Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz E
• Roboblitz E 10+
• Madden Football ‘07 E
• LocoRoco E
• Dance Factory E
• Brain Age E
• Nancy Drew: Danger by Design E
• Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: The March of the Minis E