Images of men and women in the media are often based on stereotypical roles of males and females in our society. Because stereotyping can affect how children feel about themselves and how they relate to others, it’s important that they learn to recognize and understand gender stereotypes in different media.
Media violence has been taken up as a public policy issue by a number of Western countries. Central to the debate has been the challenge of accommodating what may appear to be opposing principles—the protection of children from unsuitable media content and upholding the right to freedom of expression.
Throughout the elementary years, parents are the main gatekeepers for their children. As such, they need to be actively involved in their children’s video game playing – selecting the games, managing how much time children spend playing, and talking to them about the values in the games they like.
Sixty-two per cent of Canadian gamers are male: and in a market targeted primarily at males, games that appeal to girls can be hard to find. Generally girls aren’t interested in the violent “first person shooter” games favoured by boys, and many of the girl-specific games promote stereotypical interests such as cooking and babysitting. (Industry representatives claim these topics are chosen based on their surveys of what female games want.)
Concerns about video games include the time children and teens spend playing them, the physical effects of an inactive lifestyle, and the violent or sexist content of many games. Playing video games can be a positive experience if we understand the issues involved, choose games wisely and control screen time.
Video and computer games have become a basic part of kids’ lives: nearly all youth play electronic games at least occasionally. Many parents, though, feel they don’t know enough about the games their children are playing, and worry about the role gaming plays in their children’s lives. Fortunately, there are steps parents can take to make sure that video games are a healthy part of their kids’ lives, and a fun part of family life as well.
If you’re a parent, chances are there was at least one video game under the tree this Christmas. Even though your kids may be thrilled by a new title, as a parent you may be less enthusiastic. Even those of us who grew up with Alone in the Dark may balk at the detailed level of violence in Modern Warfare and Fallout: New Vegas, at least when considered as fare for kids. Both of these games receive an “M” rating, which means that they are considered unsuitable for players under 17; as with all other things, though, labeling these titles as ‘for adults only’ often makes them more appealing to the unintended youth audience. In addition to the violence question, there remain issues of meaning in videogames which are harder to track but no less important. So how concerned should parents be about indulging their children’s appetite for virtual violence?