Academic journal article The Journal of Consumer Affairs

Parenting Orientations as Antecedents of Children's Violent Videogame Play

Academic journal article The Journal of Consumer Affairs

Parenting Orientations as Antecedents of Children's Violent Videogame Play

Article excerpt

The study investigates caregiver influence on children's playing of violent videogames. Based on theory, the investigation develops and tests a model that links parental socialization tendencies to children's violent videogame play. Results from a national sample of 237 caregiver-child dyads suggest that while the primary caregivers' tendencies toward warmth and restrictiveness likely lessen children's play levels of violent videogames, their predispositions toward anxious emotional involvement tend to increase play. Moreover, results suggest that these relationships are mediated by caregiver mediation of videogames.


Despite claims to the contrary (cf. Ferguson and Kilburn 2009), there has been strong evidence which suggests that children's playing of violent videogames has negative consequences (Anderson et al. 2010; Huesmann 2010). The most compelling evidence to date was presented in a meta-analysis of 381 studies that investigated the impact of violent videogame playing on negative outcomes in both children and adults (Anderson et al. 2010). The study found positive linkages between violent videogame play and the incidence of aggressive cognitions, amount of aggressive affect, demonstration of aggressive behaviors, and desensitization to violence in all age groups. Moreover, the study also noted an inverse linkage between violent videogame participation and prosocial behavior. Importantly, this examination investigated both the short-and long-term effects of violent videogame participation, controlled for study method differences (cross-sectional, experimental, and longitudinal designs), and explored effects across cultures. The authors of the study concluded:

Concerning public policy, we believe that debates can and should finally move beyond the simple question of whether violent videogame play is a causal risk factor for aggressive behavior; the scientific literature has effectively and clearly shown the answer to be "yes." Instead we believe that the public policy debate should move to questions concerning how to best deal with this risk factor. Public education about this risk factor--and about how parents (emphasis added), schools and society can deal with it--could be very useful. (Anderson et al. 2010, 171)

Thus, it appears that debate has shifted from whether or not there are detrimental effects of children's play of violent videogames to developing a better understanding of how caregivers can reduce play levels. Therefore, the objective of this study is to determine how parenting orientations (via caregiver mediation efforts) influence children's playing of violent videogames. Research focusing on caregivers appears to be particularly important because prior efforts aimed at directly restricting children's game access in the marketplace (e.g., stores) has either been voted down by state legislatures or declared unconstitutional by the courts (Collier, Liddell, and Liddell 2008). As such, these findings can be used to help policymakers assist in the design of caregiver education efforts that have the ultimate goal of reducing children's violent videogame play.

It is important to note that this research uses a parental socialization perspective (cf., Carlson, Laczniak, and Walsh 2001) to gain a theoretically rich understanding of how caregivers influence children in this regard. Such a perspective has been used in prior research that aimed to determine how parents socialize their children regarding related phenomenon (e.g., television viewing, see Carlson, Laczniak, and Walsh 2001). Because the consumption of violent videogames deals with children's use of a medium that has been criticized by some for containing questionable content (as have television programs), it appears that a parental socialization perspective would be useful in developing an understanding of how caregivers influence children in this context. In particular, the present research reports on the results of a study (based on a cross-sectional sample of 237 caregiver-child dyads) that links parental socialization dimensions to children's videogame play. …

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