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And, as teenagers increasingly use the Internet, they are exposed to violence there as well; a survey of more than 1500 10- to 15-year-olds revealed that 38% had been exposed to violent scenes on the Internet. A recent analysis of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) ratings of video games revealed that more than half of all games are rated as containing violence, including more than 90% of games rated as appropriate for children 10 years or older (E10 and T ratings).Children in grades 4 through 8 preferentially choose video games that award points for violence against others, and 7 of 10 children in grades 4 through 12 report playing M-rated (mature) games, with 78% of boys reporting owning M-rated games.The various media ratings are determined by industry-sponsored ratings boards or the artists and producers themselves.They are age based, which assumes that all parents agree with the raters about what is appropriate content for children of specific ages.
In this context, with helpful adult guidance on the real costs and consequences of violence, appropriately mature adolescent viewers can learn the danger and harm of violence by vicariously experiencing its outcomes.
Working with industry-provided documents, the FTC determined that, despite the fact that their own rating systems found the material appropriate only for adults, these industries practiced “pervasive and aggressive marketing of violent movies, music, and electronic games to children,” such as promoting R-rated movies to Campfire girls.
The movie ratings are used by approximately three quarters of parents, but only about half of parents say they have ever used the video-game ratings, the television ratings, or the music advisories to guide their choices.
Research has associated exposure to media violence with a variety of physical and mental health problems for children and adolescents, including aggressive and violent behavior, bullying, desensitization to violence, fear, depression, nightmares, and sleep disturbances.
Consistent and significant associations between media exposure and increases in aggression and violence have been found in American and cross-cultural studies; in field experiments, laboratory experiments, cross-sectional studies, and longitudinal studies; and with children, adolescents, and young adults.
At a Congressional public health summit in July 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was joined by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Psychological Association in issuing an unprecedented joint statement on the impact of entertainment violence on children.