Marketing Games to Kids

Marketing Games to Kids

There's lots of cash inside those little pockets.

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Excellent stuff on limiting your child's exposure to manipulation. We can't be there for them all the time, but dammit I can fast forward a DVR when my nieces/nephews are visiting.

One thing that stood out to me:

In 2007, the FTC released the report Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children to Congress. The study found that videogame companies did not specifically target children under 17 to advertising for M-rated videogames.

See, things like this annoy me. If the study found that game companies don't do that, why did they give it a title that suggests they DO do that? Ugh.

On a lighter note:

Commercials on the cartoon network bleat to their audiences to buy cereal, shoes, videogames and non-toxic calorie substances that resemble food.

This line tickled me :-)

One thing that stood out to me:

In 2007, the FTC released the report Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children to Congress. The study found that videogame companies did not specifically target children under 17 to advertising for M-rated videogames.

See, things like this annoy me. If the study found that game companies don't do that, why did they give it a title that suggests they DO do that? Ugh.

I say it's because they want the message to be show that the study is about how violent entertainment is marketed to children. It isn't so much that they're saying it does, or that they're saying that it doesn't. It seems a fairly non-suggestive title; one that illustrates what the study was about: whether or not violent entertainment is marketed to children.

This was a great article. Is this a new series? I haven't seen a past article like this. I'll have to check the archives.

Anyway, I have always believed that parents need to be the first line of defense when it comes to the hyper-saturation of marketing and the crass consumer culture we are experiencing in our media (if it seems like I'm negatively biased, I AM a Libertarian Socialist, so it's true). However, with the recent government activities threatening the freedom of the video game industry, it seems evident (as always) that parents don't want to be responsible for their children's individual exposure. Or they feel they can't be, so they have the government get their clumsy, bureaucratic procedures into the fracas once again. I'm big against censorship, as everyone has something to say, even if I don't agree, but it's frustrating.

Why can't parents be their child's censor? Why does there have to be an outside force censoring everything for EVERYONE? Your advice is great, but I don't see it teaching anything parents haven't already ignored.

By the way, how does comparison shopping help prevent unwanted exposure of advertising? Just curious.

Exposure... my kids always want to play the games I play. Especially the games I don't even let them watch.

Nice article, and probably one of the more interesting topics you've written on lately. Thanks for that.

As an aside, last year I did a research assignment on regulation of the videogames industry, including the ESRB, ESA, etc., and came across a similar study by the FTC in 2000. At the time, their findings were that several of the companies they investigated (I believe it was in the 80% range) actually did internal focus testing using young children even though their target audience was supposed to be 17+. Either standards and practices have improved since then, or the investigation this time around wasn't as thorough and/or more forgiving.

Exposure, indeed. Far too often I have parents come in to buy M rated games for their young kids, and when I ask if they're okay with the rating, they say "Well, no, but he plays it at a friend's house, so..."

That makes me angry, honestly. That seems to me a PERFECT way to address those sorts of games - sit down and talk with your kid about them! Tell them that you don't approve, and talk to the parent of the friend's house! Don't just sigh and give in and buy your 9 year old GTA!

Optimystic:

In 2007, the FTC released the report Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children to Congress. The study found that videogame companies did not specifically target children under 17 to advertising for M-rated videogames.

See, things like this annoy me. If the study found that game companies don't do that, why did they give it a title that suggests they DO do that? Ugh.

I think you're taking the implication one step too far. What would you have named the study?

Addendum:

seekeroftruth86:
Why can't parents be their child's censor? Why does there have to be an outside force censoring everything for EVERYONE? Your advice is great, but I don't see it teaching anything parents haven't already ignored.

I think the fear is what could happen while they the parent are unavailable or if the child has a will despite what the parent wishes. (Can you say honestly that you've never done anything behind your parents' backs?) Many parents exert control, but the fear of what happens beyond it is gripping. Giving parents a better understanding of what's going on will hopefully reduce those fears and give them more managerial tools to extend that control and make it more effective.

By the way, how does comparison shopping help prevent unwanted exposure of advertising? Just curious.

I don't believe it prevents exposure of advertising, no more than being educated about game content does (i.e. not at all). Nothing can prevent running into the big Call of Duty standup next to the Kinect display short of avoiding the entire section of the store. No, it's about, "kids [becoming] better equipped to make good consumer decisions."

I have a younger cousin who I always draw a blank for during the holidays because for some reason incomprehensible to me she doesn't like video games. Similar to article, I remember as a child dreaming of playing those crappy 8bit games. I didn't even have TV, I just wanted games based upon seeing friends play them.

pneuma08:
I think you're taking the implication one step too far. What would you have named the study?

Targeted Marketing of Violent Entertainment

Or hell, at least make it more of a question:

Potential Marketing of Violent Entertainment to Children

It's like those disingenuous news stories that begin with a hook. "Could pedophiles be stalking your children via Twitter?" And then they say, almost peremptorily at the end, "No, the chances of that happening are actually pretty small. Thank you for watching our 45 minute exposť."

protecting children or evil coroporations exploiting children is a easy and manipulative way to score automatic points in a public debate.

any time you can tiwst the facts and figures to support your claim you garner the support of many older adults and parents in general that omg how could anyone be against protecting children? how could anyone want their child exploited by corporate greed?

this packaging is amazingly effective, i sometimes post on a conservative/libertarian site and when the article about the cali video games law came up there i was sure to read the article and the posts about the article.

what was really jaw dropping about this article and the response to it, these live free less government types were mostly for the bill....why? because well children should not be playing these games and we have to protect children. some of them even went so far as to say that games were akin to pornography, claiming there was nudity and sex acts and extreme brutality stuff i not even seen in gta games.

there is way way too much ignorance in the general public about what is actually in video games, they read articles and listen to politicians that spot off about some obscure game that was not even sold and go on and on about the content of said game as if it is a widespread occurance in the game world and that it sold a billion copies and that children were playing it.

and the real hoot is that no politician will correct this crap, i mean it was suprosiing that the justices on the sc refered to mortal combat and gta and other games with some decent amount of knowledge and the fact that when mortal combat came out people were up in arms the game was too graphic too much blood it was going to turn our kids into monsters and on and on but it never happened.

thank god we got some clam heads in the SC cause of what i have seen of the general public this whole pr war was lost a long time ago. and all to protect the children that were never in danger.

pneuma08:

seekeroftruth86:
Why can't parents be their child's censor? Why does there have to be an outside force censoring everything for EVERYONE? Your advice is great, but I don't see it teaching anything parents haven't already ignored.

I think the fear is what could happen while they the parent are unavailable or if the child has a will despite what the parent wishes. (Can you say honestly that you've never done anything behind your parents' backs?) Many parents exert control, but the fear of what happens beyond it is gripping. Giving parents a better understanding of what's going on will hopefully reduce those fears and give them more managerial tools to extend that control and make it more effective.

I can understand that. But when our society is supposedly built on cornerstones of "Free Speech" and "Free Markets", how can we in good faith try to pass legislature that seeks to prevent it? Trying to assuage fears by acting to prevent their cause seems like a good idea, especially in preventative medicine. But it is only going to backfire in the face of Constitutional rights. Or the ones we're supposed to have anyway.

By trying to destroy, rather than rise above that which we fear, we only cause ourselves more suffering.

Hulyen:
Exposure, indeed. Far too often I have parents come in to buy M rated games for their young kids, and when I ask if they're okay with the rating, they say "Well, no, but he plays it at a friend's house, so..."

That makes me angry, honestly. That seems to me a PERFECT way to address those sorts of games - sit down and talk with your kid about them! Tell them that you don't approve, and talk to the parent of the friend's house! Don't just sigh and give in and buy your 9 year old GTA!

That's a perfect example of something parents of older children have to deal with all the time - we're not the only influence on our children once they start going to school and making friends. Once they start going to friends' houses they are going to be exposed to different standards of parenting, and possibly things we wouldn't allow them to do or see at home.

That is actually one of the reasons we send them to school and encourage them to make friends in the first place - so they get exposed to different ideas, and different world views. Just like they will when they go out into the world as adults.

But it does mean that you can't rigidly stick to your own parental standards no matter what. "Aww, but all the other kids play GTA IV!" isn't a good reason to allow little Jimmy to have the game - but at the same time steadfastly refusing him access to the game when he's going to play it anyway (at his friends' houses, if nowhere else) isn't a good idea either. Part of allowing your children to grow up is relaxing the boundaries you've put in place - especially if they come up with a good reason for you to do so (keeping rules in place without a good reason isn't a great way to earn or keep your kids' respect).

So yes, you do have to talk to your kids about the issues that come up as they want access to more explicit material - but often the result of that talk will be "I'll buy that game and you can play it [under these restrictions]"

Because, to be frank, I'd much rather supervise my child's early contact with explicit material so I can talk to and educate him about it, than leave all the educating to his friends.

(this, incidentally, is one reason why having rating systems enforced by law (as it is in my country) is a pretty good idea - I'm the arbiter of whether my child can access age-restricted content, rather than relying on the retailer's discretion)

Soylent Dave:

That's a perfect example of something parents of older children have to deal with all the time - we're not the only influence on our children once they start going to school and making friends. Once they start going to friends' houses they are going to be exposed to different standards of parenting, and possibly things we wouldn't allow them to do or see at home.

That is actually one of the reasons we send them to school and encourage them to make friends in the first place - so they get exposed to different ideas, and different world views. Just like they will when they go out into the world as adults.

But it does mean that you can't rigidly stick to your own parental standards no matter what. "Aww, but all the other kids play GTA IV!" isn't a good reason to allow little Jimmy to have the game - but at the same time steadfastly refusing him access to the game when he's going to play it anyway (at his friends' houses, if nowhere else) isn't a good idea either. Part of allowing your children to grow up is relaxing the boundaries you've put in place - especially if they come up with a good reason for you to do so (keeping rules in place without a good reason isn't a great way to earn or keep your kids' respect).

So yes, you do have to talk to your kids about the issues that come up as they want access to more explicit material - but often the result of that talk will be "I'll buy that game and you can play it [under these restrictions]"

Because, to be frank, I'd much rather supervise my child's early contact with explicit material so I can talk to and educate him about it, than leave all the educating to his friends.

(this, incidentally, is one reason why having rating systems enforced by law (as it is in my country) is a pretty good idea - I'm the arbiter of whether my child can access age-restricted content, rather than relying on the retailer's discretion)

Those are excellent points - I am not a parent, and can only speak from the point of view of a retailer. It's just the obvious bending of ideals that shows the kid that they can get away with whatever they want and setting a poor example of giving in. Kudos to you for finding a balance!

This is the reason my son and I only watch shows on Netflix instant watch. NO COMMERCIALS!

In Denmark its illegal to market ANYTHING to kids. Althought there are no restrictions to channels broadcast from neighboring countries.

 

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