Newsflash: Violence in Video Games Still Rampant Problem
WASHINGTON - Nov. 23, 2004 - The National Institute on Media and the Family, the nation's leading resource on the effects of video games on children, released its Ninth Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card today in Washington, D.C. This year's MediaWise Video Game Report Card highlights the mixed messages the video game industry sends to parents. To help parents get the right message about video games, the Institute is launching a new public service announcement that encourages parents to "Watch What their Kids Watch."
David Walsh, Ph.D., president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, presented the Ninth Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card with Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Herb Kohl, and Congresswoman Betty McCollum. Nationally syndicated columnist Steven Kent also spoke on the report card's significance.
"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 don't really matter."
"That is a big problem for parents when you consider this year's crop of games, such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Leisure Suit Larry, are games that children have access to, and that drastically push the envelope on sex and violence."
Dr. Walsh also called attention to the results of this year's 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 Institute's 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.
Other 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.
The Institute has also released its first public service announcement, which was produced by Martin Williams and is available at www.mediawise.org .
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.mediafamily.org on the Web or call 1-888-672-5437.