Video games coming under fire


Watchdog groups are concerned about the bonds between kids and video games for a number of reasons. Among them are the promotion by some of violence and consumerism, the growing prevalence of in-game advertising, and the deleterious affect of overuse of games on the attention span.

A recent study from the Iowa State University looked at the combined effects of television viewing and video gaming among a group of elementary school students and a group of college-age students, and found that anything over two hours a day of combined video screen time tends to contribute to attention disorders.

Acccording the, researchers blamed the MTV effect – rapid cuts, frequent changes of camera angle and lighting, etc. It cited the theory that the brain is what is does, and said getting used to rapid-fire change puts a teacher in a classroom at a serious disadvantage when it comes to keeping a child’s attention, even in the college age group.

Meanwhile, public interest groups are pressing ahead with attempts to limit access of minors to certain video games, particularly on-line versions, and to limit advertising on them. Suggestions for online monitoring include requiring the presentation of drivers license or credit card information before a player is allowed into the game.

According to a CNET article, the groups include Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the Center for Digital Democracy, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and U.S. PIRG.

They believe that the same protections put in place for minors on other media platforms must be extended to games. And they want both young children and teens to be protected.

Game companies say that such proposals run headlong into practical and legal problems, including free speech considerations, particularly if protections designed for three-year-olds are supposed to be applied to 17-year-olds as well.

RBR-TVBR observation: Welcome to our world, digital gaming industry! Broadcasters have long been an irresistible target for watchdogs. Get ready for a long, protracted and essentially endless struggle.