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US family group praises industry ratings

But National Institute on Media and the Family warns parents to 'step up and do their jobs'

America's National Institute on Media and the Family has praised the efforts taken by retailers and the ESRB in protecting minors from adult videogame content.

But while the industry was given welcome approval, parents were warned that they are not using information and services to help educate themselves and younger consumers.

"For 13 years, the National Institute on Media and the Family has been asking the video game industry and retailers to take responsibility to keep mature-rated videogames away from kids," said Dr. David Walsh, president and founder of the group.

"This year the industry has improved its ratings enforcement and given parents new tools when choosing the right videogame for their child. That’s a significant step in the right direction."

The report highlighted a study by the Federal Trade Commission that found only 20 per cent of children who tried to purchase mature-rated games from retailers were successful, compared to data from 2003, where 55 per cent of under-age consumers bought M-rated games.

Walsh said that parents need to take advantage of services such as parental controls and improved online ratings in order to protect children further, and the latest report card features a Parent's Guide to Videogames along with a list of recommended games.

"Now that we parents have the information and tools we need we have to step up and do our jobs," he said.

"Videogames have become a staple in most American households as games like Wii Fit, Guitar Hero World Tour and Hasbro Family Game Night replace traditional board games and family movie nights.

"But too much videogame playing can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and can be a contributing factor to childhood obesity and sliding school grades, and, in some cases, may cause videogame addiction," he warned.

The report noted that the American Psychiatric Association has been asked to consider adding videogame addiction to a list of mental disorders.

"Excessive, compulsive videogame play bears all the hallmarks of an addiction. A growing number of addiction experts consider compulsive gaming as a real problem," said the report.

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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