Before purchasing a video game, we consult the age ratings. Most utilize a letter or number combination to indicate the ratings, which are based on the amount of violence, sexual imagery or allusions, and language used.
These ratings are most significant for parents, however recent studies show that many parents allow their children to play beyond their age range. According to a UK poll, more than half of parents allow their young children to play 18+ rated video games.
Do these ratings really matter since that young kids may get their hands on 18+-rated games?
Video Games Shape Children’s Behavior
An Iowa State University research analyzed 191 youngsters to demonstrate how effective video games may be and how they might affect children’s actions. The individuals, 104 men and 87 females, were offered to play a pro-social game (Chibi Robo), a neutral game (Pure Pinball), or a violent game (Crash Twinsanity) and a children’s video game (cartoon characters).
The findings demonstrate that youngsters who played games with pro-social themes or characters that assist one other had more helpful and less harmful conduct immediately thereafter. Games containing violent material, on the other hand, have the opposite impact on youngsters.
They did the same research with 330 college students and got comparable findings. This demonstrates how strong video game material can be in influencing children’s behavior, either favorably or badly.
Parents, however, should not depend only on ratings, according to the experts.
Don’t Just Rely On Ratings
“In the children’s study, they were all extremely cartoonish games—all rated acceptable for everyone—and yet we still detected the violent injury element,” the researchers discovered.
“The grading method does not adequately represent a game’s potential for damage or benefit,” they found.
Researchers discovered that even games considered safe for children, even those rated E or for everyone, may nonetheless include violent imagery or allusions to material that is inappropriate for young children.
What Do Video Game Ratings Really Mean? A Guide to the ESRB and the PEGI
Worse, age ratings might often make games more appealing to young children. Yes, violent-content warning flags may make games more appealing to youngsters.
The “Forbidden Fruit” Effect of Age Ratings
Video game age ratings may have the opposite effect of keeping children away from unsuitable material. Games labeled 18+ are becoming more appealing to young children, who often seek what they are not allowed to have.
According to a 2009 research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, violent content labels or 18+ ratings may actually improve the attraction of games for children younger than the specified age classification.
The research comprised 310 young people aged 7-8, 12-13, and 16-17 years old. Participants were instructed to read bogus video game descriptions and assess how much they wanted to play the games.
According to the study’s findings, restricted age labels and violent-content labels had a forbidden-fruit impact on youngsters, increasing their desire to play these games.
What Can Parents Do to Monitor Game Content?
While there are studies that demonstrate the efficacy of gaming age-ratings in offering suitable suggestions, even the experts behind these studies recognize that the rating-system will only be useful if parents adopt it.
Parents should step in and arbitrate their children’s video game purchases or usage. Given how potent video games may be in influencing children’s behavior and, ultimately, their personalities, we shouldn’t utilize them as a handy (and cheaper) babysitter option in the long term.
Adults must take a more active role in moderating video game usage, particularly among very young children. Experts recommend that parents and other caregivers do the following:
- Don’t depend just on ratings. Request a demo at the shop or check gameplay videos and trailers on YouTube before buying a game. This will give you a sense of the game’s real substance as well as the language used by the characters.
- Read reviews and user comments to learn about other people’s gaming experiences. Don’t depend just on video game descriptions.
- Play the game on your own. Many parents want to sit and play with their children whenever possible in order to not only spend more quality time with their children, but also to really understand what they are doing. They’ll grasp what makes the game appealing, enjoyable, and acceptable or wrong. This will assist parents in efficiently steering their children away from the game or certain features of the game.
- Set time limitations for your children to play video games. We also recommend that parents set limitations on how much time their children may spend playing video games and the kind of games they can play.
- Explain to youngsters why they should restrict their exposure to specific information as well as their playing. On consoles, there are numerous methods to monitor playtime.
- Keep consoles or devices in a place where you can see them. Keeping the device inside the children’s room may limit your chances of monitoring the content. Also, ditch the headphones. It might give you a few hours of peace at home, but you’ll risk not hearing the type of language that your child is getting exposed to.
Researchers recommend that government authorities, regulatory bodies, and other groups provide ratings on the games themselves so that parents know what their children are playing.
They also advocate for greater awareness campaigns regarding rating systems to assist parents understand the purpose of ratings and how they may help safeguard their children from harmful material.
Age Ratings Matter, But You Need Parents’ Involvement Too
Choosing what is proper or not should include more than just reading the label. Given the potency of video games, parents must take a more active part in moderating their children’s gaming.
Knowing the real content rather than merely reading the label is the greatest approach to protect young children away from unsuitable information. Set parental controls on the device, speak to your children about the need of regulating their video game usage, and, better yet, sit down and play with them as frequently as you can.
This will assist you in gaining and maintaining your children’s trust since they will see that you are making an effort to understand them.
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