Annual Video Game Report Card Released in Washington, DC
Institute President David Walsh, Ph.D., joined by Senator Joe
Lieberman and Congresswoman Betty McCollum, released the Ninth
Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card in Washington, DC just
before Thanksgiving, 2004. This years MediaWise Video
Game Report Card focuses on the mixed messages the video game
industry sends to parents.
The double messages sent to parents about video games
are double trouble, said Dr. Walsh. For instance,
the video game industry says parents should use the ratings,
but denies violent video games affect children. The result is
parents are lead to believe the ratings dont really matter.
This contradictory message is a big problem for parents
when you consider this years crop of games, such as Grand
Theft Auto: San Andreas and Leisure Suit Larry, are accessible
to children, and they drastically push the envelope on sex and
Dr. Walsh also called attention to the results of this years
secret shopper survey. Last year, the Interactive Entertainment
Merchants Association announced that, by this shopping season,
they would enforce policies restricting youth access to M-rated
video games without parental permission. However, the Institutes
secret shopper survey found that boys as young as seven were
able to buy M-rated games 50 percent of the time, whereas girls
were only able to purchase games 8 percent of the time.
The double message to parents of young children from video
game retailers is we will enforce the ratings, but only for
your daughters, not your sons, said Dr. Walsh.
areas of special concern in the Ninth Annual MediaWise Video
Game Report Card include: adolescent brain development; video
games and the childhood obesity epidemic; and the need for the
ESRB to improve its OK to Play education campaign.
Similar to previous years, the Annual MediaWise Video Game Report
Card also provides parents a list of recommended video games
and games to avoid.
See Media Use Linked to
Serious Public Health Issues
On November 1, 2004 the National Institute on Media and
the Family released a new study that shows most pediatricians
believe excess media use negatively affects children in
many different areas, including aggressive behavior, poor
eating habits, decreased physical activity, a greater
risk for obesity, and poor academic achievement. The study
also finds that most pediatricians are familiar with and
agree with the three major recommendations from the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on childrens media use.
Pediatricians do provide all three recommendations to
parents at least sometimes, and most pediatricians reported
that their efforts were at least a little effective, although
they cite lack of parent support for the recommendations
as the largest barrier they face.
The three major AAP recommendations on childrens
media use are: 1. Parents should discourage television
viewing for children under two years old and should encourage
more interactive activities that promote proper brain
development; 2. Parents should limit childrens media
time to no more than one to two hours of quality programming
per day for older children; and 3. Parents
should monitor programming; view with their children and
adolescents; and encourage alternative forms of entertainment.
This study shows that pediatricians understand the
power of the media to affect childrens development,
and that paying attention to how much and what types of
media children use can have life-long consequences,
said Douglas Gentile, Ph.D., director of research for
the National Institute on Media and the Family, psychology
professor at Iowa State University, and the studys
for the New MediaWise PSA!
The National Institute on Media and the Family is very
grateful to Martin|Williams, a Minneapolis-based advertising
firm, for their contribution to MediaWise. Martin|William
produced a public service announcement that was released
in conjunction with the Ninth Annual MediaWise Video Game
Report Card on November 23, 2004. To help parents get
the right message about video games, the new MediaWise
public service announcement encourages parents to Watch
What their Kids Watch. The public service announcement
also directs parents to the National Institute on Media
and the Familys Web site, www.mediawise.org.
The site provides parents with important information about
the media and helps them make MediaWise choices for kids.
Walsh is shown below in Woodbury, Minnesota, where
he spoke to several hundred parents about changes
in teens brains and how to use this information
to understand, communicate with, and stay connected
to their kids. Dr. Walshs latest workshops are
based upon WHY Do They Act That Way?
To schedule a workshop, please contact Gwen Aaberg
of the National Institute on Media and the Family
at 1-888-672-5437 or 612-672-5437.
Do They Act That Way? Update
Walshs latest book, WHY Do They Act That Way?
A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and
Your Teen (Free Press, 2004) is among the top five
2004 Editors Picks for parenting and
families on Amazon.com. Now in its eighth printing,
WHY Do They Act That Way? has also appeared in
the Star Tribunes nonfiction bestsellers list.
Dr. Walsh first previewed WHY Do They Act That Way?
in August on CBSs The Early Show. He also appeared
on The Jane Pauley Show in October, serving as Janes
guest expert throughout the hour-long program entitled
What Parents Need to Know.
For more information about WHY Do They Act That Way?,
please visit www.TeenWiseParents.org.
Media Myth #2: Media violence affects everyone the same
The Truth: Media violence has many scientifically
The Evidence: Although more than 14 different types of
effects have been documented with children and adults, they
can be reduced to four broad effects. They have been called
and scientific communities have stated that the evidence is
clear that media violence has real effects. That is no longer
the question. The question now is in what way will any given
individual be affected? The four effects above show that media
violence can have many different effects.
Watching a lot of violent entertainment media causes increased
meanness, aggression, and even violence toward others.
Victim Effect: Watching a lot of violent entertainment
causes increased fearfulness, mistrust, and self-protective
Bystander Effect: Watching a lot of violent entertainment
causes increased desensitization, callousness, and apathy
toward victims of aggression
Appetite Effect: Watching a lot of violent entertainment
causes increased self-initiated behaviors to see more violent
Mann is an award-winning storyteller, bringing a variety of
educational programs and workshops to children and adults
in schools, churches, libraries, educational conferences,
and corporate settings throughout the upper Midwest. Mike
originally became involved in the National Institute on Media
and the Family as a media rater for the MediaWise KidScore®
program and has been an active advocate of the Institute's
mission since 1997.
Mike's extensive storytelling experience creates an engaging
environment for adults and children on subjects ranging from
creative writing and storytelling to the MediaWise program.
Mike performs before more than 15,000 children and adults
each year, and has appeared on Channel 9's Good Morning Minnesota
and KARE 11. He also participated in the panel discussion
involving parents and educators led by Dr. David Walsh on
TPT2 after the 9/11 attacks.
Mike and his wife, Vicki, live in Minneapolis and have four
children, Jennifer, Laura, John, and Tim, and a grandson,
To see a calendar of Mikes upcoming MediaWise presentations,
please visit: www.mediafamily.org/speakers/calendar_2.shtml.
Concerned about how
media violence and disrespect affects your family?
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