Posted on October 31st, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories | Leave a comment

I know that many of my blogs are against media in some form due to excessive violence, or addiction, etc.  However, I have been struggling with this thought that there has to be some positive media out there, and that I should also talk about this outcome. 

I believe that there is positive media in the form of commercials that motivate you to go out and serve your country, or contribute to a cause.  I think that there are movies that inform you of ideas that help you better understand other people, and points of view.  I think there are those television shows that make you want to go out and change yourself, or make your world a better place.  I also think that there are video games that help you learn new things, or improve your physical self. 

I guess where I struggle is when parents, such as myself, don’t know where the line is.  I think that the world of media has always been in conjunction with the world of advertising and marketing to get us to consume more than we need.  I understand that this is the nature of the beast, but it always stings a little when you get suckered into buying more than you need, or waste what you don’t want.  I think the same goes for buying media products, or media devices.  As parents we get bombarded when our children are little about their educational futures, and their growth and development.  What parent doesn’t want the best for their children?  So we buy these devices, or these games, or these toys, or these videos or these computer applications, or whatever it is.  Then once we are hooked, our kids are hooked, the family is hooked, then what do you do?  You don’t play Grover’s ABC game forever.  You can’t really expect your child to play Look and Find Letters when they are teenagers.  So then what do we do?  How do we stop the cycle that was created at such a young age? 

I am going to go out there and find the answers for us! I am going to let you know what your options are in regards to the media.  I am hoping to find some positive media options for families.

I have been looking through the new games that are coming out for upcoming Holiday Season, and it still intrigues me that almost all of the games that are being promoted this season are rated M for maturity or T for teen.  I read the new Batman video game, and it says that it is rated T for teen due to tobacco use, alcohol use, mature themes, violence and more.  I am just wondering how many parents really understand the rating system for video games, because obviously the video game industry is banking on the fact that we don’t understand, and are just disregarding the system entirely.

Early Childhood (EC): Early Childhood rated games have content that may be suitable for persons ages 3 and older. Titles in this category contain no material that parents would find inappropriate.

Everyone (E): Everyone rated games have content that may be suitable for persons ages six and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence and some comic mischief and/or mild language.
icon_e10plusEVERYONE 10+ (E10+): Titles rated E10+ have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Teen (T): Teen rated games have content that may be suitable for persons ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violent content, mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.
undefinedMature (M): Mature rated games have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence and/or strong language.
undefinedAdults Only (AO): Adults Only rated games have content suitable only for adults. Titles in this category may include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adults Only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.
Rating Pending: Used only for advertising and/or marketing materials created for titles that have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting a final rating.
Content Descriptor: Over 30 standardized phrases that indicate content that triggered a particular rating and may be of interest or concern, so it is different on each and every game, so make sure you read the entire label, not just the letter rating.  For example, one video game for T could have tobacco use, and a completely different one marked T has alcohol use, and no tobacco use.  These are just ways to make it harder for the consumer to understand.  The over-all feeling is that you need to play the game in it’s entirety before you can make an educated decision in regards to your child. That is fine and all, but as a parent, I have more pressing things on my schedule than sitting down and playing an entire game of Grand Theft Auto.  I just wish that the video game industry would take after the movie industry and make everything uniform and concise so that we don’t have to look so hard to find out what is in each game.  I hope that this has helped some parents understand the rating system better.

Posted on October 18th, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories, Public Policy | Leave a comment

The American Academy of Pediatrics today reaffirmed their position that media and screen time for kids younger than 2 can have potentially negative effects.

Recommendations include:

• The AAP realizes that media exposure is a reality for many families in today’s society. If parents choose to engage their young children with electronic media, they should have concrete strategies to manage it. Ideally, parents should review the content of what their child is watching and watch the program with their child.

• Parents are discouraged from placing a television set in their child’s bedroom.

• Parents need to realize that their own media use can have a negative effect on their children. Television that is intended for adults and is on with a young child in the room is distracting for both the parent and the child.

• Unstructured playtime is more valuable for the developing brain than any electronic media exposure. If a parent is not able to actively play with a child, that child should have solo playtime with an adult nearby. Even for infants as young as 4 months of age, solo play allows a child to think creatively, problem-solve, and accomplish tasks with minimal parent interaction. The parent can also learn something in the process of giving the child an opportunity to entertain himself or herself while remaining nearby.

The full AAP Policy Statement below:

Posted on October 18th, 2011 in Media Violence News | Leave a comment
From by Rick Nauert PHD

A new study demonstrates that parents may have good reason to be concerned about how much time their kids play video games.

Investigators found evidence that video game “addiction” exists globally and that greater amounts of gaming, lower social competence and greater impulsivity were risk factors for becoming pathological gamers.

The two-year longitudinal study of 3,034 third through eighth grade students in Singapore found approximately nine percent of gamers to be pathological players, according to standards similar to those established by the American Psychiatric Association for diagnosing gambling addiction.

And some serious problems — including depressionanxiety, social phobias and lower school performance — seemed to be outcomes of their pathological play.

Dr. Douglas Gentile, an Iowa State associate professor of psychology, and five researchers from Singapore and Hong Kong collaborated on the study, which will be published in the February 2011 issue ofPediatrics.

The researchers report that the percentage of pathological youth gamers in Singapore is similar to other recent video game addiction studies in other countries, including the United States (8.5 percent), China (10.3 percent), Australia (8.0 percent), Germany (11.9 percent) and Taiwan (7.5 percent).

“We’re starting to see a number of studies from different cultures — in Europe, the U.S. and Asia — and they’re all showing that somewhere around 7 to 11 percent of gamers seem to be having real problems to the point that they’re considered pathological gamers,” said Gentile.

“And we define that as damage to actual functioning — their school, social, family, occupational, psychological functioning, etc. To be considered pathological, gamers must be damaging multiple areas of their lives.”

According to Dr. Angeline Khoo of Singapore’s National Institute of Education, who was principal investigator of the overall project, “This study is important because we didn’t know until this research whether some types of children are at greater risk, how long the problem lasts, or whether pathological gaming was a separate problem or simply a symptom of some other problem — such as depression.”

The researchers gathered data from students attending 12 Singapore schools, including five boys’ schools. The subjects were surveyed annually on their video game play and behavior between 2007 and 2009. Surveys were conducted in classrooms by teachers who had been trained by the research team.

The study had a 99 percent response rate.

Using the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a guide to define the addictive condition, the researchers found between 7.6 and 9.9 percent of the student sample could be defined as pathological gamers over the two-year period.

Eighty-four percent of those subjects who were first classified as pathological gamers were found to still be classified that way two years later. Yet in that same two-year window, only one percent of the sample became new pathological gamers.

Through their analyses, the researchers conclude that video game addiction is a serious behavioral problem that is separate from other afflictions.

“Once they become addicted, pathological gamers were more likely to become depressed, have increased social phobias, and increased anxiety. And they received poorer grades in school,” Gentile said.

“Therefore, it looks like pathological gaming is not simply a symptom of depression, social phobia or anxiety. In fact, those problems seem to increase as children become more addicted. In addition, when children stopped being addicted, depression, anxiety and social phobias decreased as well.”

Among this sample, pathological gamers started with an average of 31 hours of play per week, compared with 19 hours per week for those who never became pathological gamers. But Gentile says those thresholds don’t necessarily translate across all cultures, particularly in American children.

“In general, Singaporean children spend more time playing video games than American children,” he said.

“In the U.S., we didn’t follow the kids across time, so we don’t know where that threshold is across each culture or if there is a certain amount that is too much. We do know, however, that playing a lot is not the same as being a pathological gamer — the gaming must be causing problems for it to be considered pathological.”

Source: Iowa State University


Posted on October 11th, 2011 in Media Addiction, Parents Stories | Leave a comment

I was reading a local newspaper article this weekend about a man who is trying to raise his children as media free as possible. He claims that he is fanatical about going outside and trying to do physical activities as well as implementing a few rules in regards to media usage.  His co-author was poking fun of him through out the article and even went on to say that he was “holding” his children back from socializing and connecting with peers in the present day dynamic.

I am wondering why, as parents, it is holding our children back, or denying them their rights if we attempt to make them well-rounded, and all around healthy individuals.  I am not saying, nor have I ever stated that we should deny children the usage of technology, or even media. I do think that there is a line between allowing our children to utilize technology to further their knowledge base, and kids being addicted to texting, or facebook.  When we, as parents, do not set up rules and limits in regards to media devices we are in essence showing our children that they cannot and should not be able to live without their technological devices. I am wondering when, we as parents, lost control and gave it to our children?

A few of the tips that the author gave was:

  1. NO computers in their bedrooms, EVER.
  2. Have a time limit for any computer/media usage.
  3. All media devices were to be put away during ANY meal.
  4. They had to do at least one non-media related activity per day.

Parents need to set up perameters, and boundaries so that our children know what the expectation is.  Many articles, interviews, and research with adoloscents show a majority wish that their parents would set up rules, and ask them to not be on the computer as much.  They wish parents would have limits on personal usage too, and gave them more attention.  Some of the teenagers stated that they didn’t think they could stop their facebook, video game, computer usage or texting addiction without the assistance of family.  So, maybe now, we can take back some of that control and at least set up some rules and limits when it comes to media usage.

Posted on October 5th, 2011 in Media Addiction, Public Policy | Leave a comment

While researching media addiction, I came across some details on internet addiction.  A study was recently published in the journal Injury Prevention.  It stated that in teenagers that were addicted to the internet they were five times more likely to hurt themselves.  Injuries have included burning themselves, pulling out their hair, or hitting or pinching themselves.  If you are wondering if your child might be addicted, here are some of the signs to look out for;

  • Excessive time spent devoted to using the Internet
  • Depression, moodiness or nervousness when not online
  • Fantasizing about or being preoccupied with being online
  • A change in sleeping patterns or habits
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Lying about time spent on the Internet or denying use
  • Neglecting family, friends or activities they used to enjoy
  • Using the Internet to avoid problems

If you think that your child might be addicted to the internet then there are a few things you can do first, before you seek professional help.

  1. You need to limit computer usage.  There needs to be a start and stop time.
  2. You should put the computer in a common area where the time spent on the computer can be monitored at all times.
  3. Talk to them about the reasons they are on the computer all of the time, and see if there is anything that you can do without seeking professional help.
  4. If all else fails, seek professional, medical assistance.