Parents, take note! If you want to reduce the amount of time your kids spend playing violent video games then be warm but authoritative while dealing with them.
Parents who are more warm and restrictive are successful in limiting children’s play of violent video games. However, highly emotional and anxious parents have the opposite effect – their children play more, researchers have found.
“It’s not surprising that warmer and more restrictive parents, or what we call authoritative, are most effective at reducing the amount of violent video games played by their children,” said Russell Laczniak, a professor of marketing at Iowa State University.
“If parents are more anxious, their message is not as well received by their children and it inhibits what they’re trying to do,” said Laczniak.
Researchers identified the effect in all children, but it was stronger for boys and first-born.
This was not entirely surprising considering parents tend to be more anxious with their first child, Laczniak said.
For the study, researchers surveyed 8- to 12-year-old children, because this is an impressionable time in their lives and an age when many children start playing video games.
“At this age, kids become more vulnerable to outside influences and their peers. As a result, people sometimes question whether parents can still have an impact,” Laczniak said.
“Our results pretty strongly suggest that they can, even among this group in which peer influences are starting to take over and have a stronger impact,” he said.
The final sample for the study included 237 sets of caregivers and children who completed the online survey. Researchers asked parents (or guardians) and children to answer the questions separately.
The majority of adult respondents, nearly 48 per cent, identified themselves as mothers; 38 per cent were fathers and the remainder was grandparents or other guardians.
Three dimensions of parental styles – warm, restrictive and anxious-emotional – were examined for the study.
Researchers explained that warm parents tend to refrain from physical discipline and show approval through affection.
Restrictive parents set and enforce firm rules for the household. Anxious-emotional parents are often overprotective and show elevated emotions when interacting with their children.
“If parents want to reduce the amount of violent video games that their kids play, be warm when dealing with them, but somewhat restrictive at the same time, and set rules and those rules will work,” Laczniak said.
The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.