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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

11-29-06

Contacts:

Douglas Gentile, Psychology, (515) 294-1472, dgentile@iastate.edu

Craig Anderson, Psychology, (515) 294-3118, caa@iastate.edu

Mike Ferlazzo, News Service, (515) 294-8986, ferlazzo@iastate.edu

ISU prof co-authored national video game report card, sees mixed results

AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University faculty member is the co-author of an annual video game report card released today in Washington, D.C.

Douglas Gentile is an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State and director of research for the Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media and the Family, which issued the report. It provides parents with a list of both recommended video games and games to avoid, and issues grades to parents, retailers, video game console manufacturers and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).

The 11th annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card cites major improvement among big box retailers in video game policies and enforcement, and commends retailers and console game manufacturers for video game safeguards. But the report card also shows that:

  • Specialty game retailers failed to prevent kids from purchasing M-rated (or mature) video games;
  • There is surprisingly easy access to M-rated video games through major retailer Web sites; and
  • Further evidence links childhood obesity to the amount of time a child plays video games

Parental involvement received an "Incomplete," as surveys show too few parents are following the ESRB's ratings or using parental controls on gaming consoles.

That all adds up to mixed results on the state of video games and kids, but vigilance is paying off, Gentile said.

"Overall, we should be encouraged that it's now more difficult for kids to purchase M-rated video games," Gentile said. "Ten years ago, kids could walk into any store and walk out with any game they wanted. One of the reasons this has changed, in part, is because of efforts like the video game report card alerting parents, retailers and the industry to this problem. Parents are getting more support, now and that's good news," he said.

The bad news, Gentile said, is that parents still aren't actively involved with their children's video game activity.

"While parents say they are more involved than they were in the past, that doesn't seem to be the case when you ask the kids," he said.

Gentile said that the level of participation required by parents may increase over the years, because game content continues to change. And just because there are safeguards and greater support from the retail and video game industry, it doesn't mean parents are off the hook.

"This should be a wake up call for parents. Parents may feel as though they don't need to pay as much attention, and that's simply not the case," Gentile said.

Gentile, Iowa State Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson and graduate student Katherine Buckley are co-authors of the forthcoming book, "Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents." The book is scheduled for January 2007 release and includes a compilation of some of their most significant research findings.

Anderson and Gentile were among the organizers and presenters at the National Summit on Video Games, Youth and Public Policy in October -- co-sponsored by the ISU Department of Psychology and the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research, and the National Institute on Media and the Family. Anderson said the event was the first time that scientific experts on video game effects, public policy experts, legal experts, education experts, and rating system experts -- including the Entertainment Software Ratings Board -- came together to exchange ideas about how to deal with potential harmful effects of certain types of video games.

The complete video game report card may be obtained at http://www.mediafamily.org/research/report_vgrc_2006.shtml. A full report on the National Summit on Video Games, Youth, and Public Policy will be released in early 2007.

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Douglas Gentile

Douglas Gentile

Quick look

ISU Assistant Professor of Psychology Douglas Gentile co-authored the 11th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card announced today in Washington, D.C. Gentile is director of research for the Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media and the Family, which issued the report.

Quote

"Overall, we should be encouraged that it's now more difficult for kids to purchase M-rated video games. Ten years ago, kids could walk into any store and walk out with any game they wanted. One of the reasons this has changed, in part, is because of efforts like the video game report card alerting parents, retailers and the industry to this problem. Parents are getting more support, now and that's good news."

Douglas Gentile