An Iowa State University researcher who has studied the link between video games and violence in kids says you should pay attention to video game ratings when buying Christmas gifts. Douglas Gentile says there are four main ratings. He says the ratings are: "E" for everyone; "E-10-plus", which is for everyone age 10 and up; "T" for teen, and "M" for mature.
"Parents you should believe the video game industry, if even they say it’s not for kids, it’s really not for kids," Gentile says. He says parents tend to disagree with the teen rating more than any other rating. Gentile says the ratings are only one way you can judge a video game.
Gentile says just because a game has a lower rating, that doesn’t mean the game is without aggressive behavior. He says there are still be fights in the game that may lead to more aggressive behavior in kids who use the game. Gentile says the ratings tend to be focused on how bloody a game is, but you need to see how the characters interact. Gentile says there are places where you can dig deeper into how a game works.
Gentile says many of the games you can rent and test them out, or find independent ratings on websites that tell you more about games. Gentile says adults are a big factor in determining the overall impact games have on kids. Gentile says while violent video games are risk factor for healthy development, when parents are more involved set limits on the types games played and the amount of time kids play, "that’s a powerful protector factor for kids."
Gentile says when parents set limits kids end up with better grades and get in fewer fights at school. Gentile is an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State and the director of research for the National Institute on Media and the Family.