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Parental Consent

3 Feb, 2006 By: John Latchem

The generation gap in the digital age is becoming narrower.

According to an Entertainment Software Association (ESA) survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, 35% of American parents play computer and video games. Among these “gamer parents,” 80% said they play video games with their children, and 66% feel playing games has brought their families closer together.

“This first-ever study of gamer parents dramatizes the increasing and positive role that video games play in American family entertainment,” said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA, the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. “The data provides further evidence dispelling the myth that game-playing is dominated by teens and single twentysomethings. It tells us that parents see games both as an enjoyable activity on their own and one that allows them to engage with their children as well.”

The study showed the typical gamer parent is 37 years old, and almost half of this group (47%) are women. The typical gamer parent has been playing games for an average of 13 years, with one-third reporting having played for 20 years or more.

Parent gamers most often play card games (34%), followed by puzzle, board and “game show” games (26%), sports games (25%) action games (20%), strategy games (20%) and downloadable games (18%).

The average gamer parent spends 19 hours a month playing games. Gamer parents with child gamers in their households spend 9.1 hours a month playing games with their kids.

The survey of 501 parents showed 85% of the children of gamer parents also play computer and video games themselves.

The study also showed 36% of gamer parents introduced their children to games, while 23% began playing because of their children; 27% of parents and children started playing games around the same time.

Three-quarters (73%) of gamer parents said they are regular voters, and a vast majority (85%) of all voter parents (both gamer and non-gamer) say that they — not government, retailers or game publishers — should take the most responsibility in monitoring childrens' exposure to games that may have inappropriate content. Also, 60% of gamer parents said it is not the role of government to regulate game sales, compared to 36% who said it was.

“This research suggests that proposals to regulate video games may backfire with American voters,” Lowenstein said.

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