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Posted at 04:28 PM ET, 01/31/2013

A look at the video games American children are playing

On March 5, Washington Post Live’s Summit on Children will convene thought leaders and experts to discuss America’s children - their education, health, and support for their families.

With American children spending most of their days - on average 7.5 hours a day - with digital media, the conversation will address the effect this constant screen time is having on children.

On average, more than an hour of this time is spent playing video games, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

With continued debate about the impact of video games on children’s health and behavior, here are some things to know about children and the video games they’re playing:

Who plays video games?

97% of children play video games, according to a 2008 study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But they aren’t the only ones playing games - in fact, the average video gamer is 37 years old, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

What games are they playing?

According to the same Pew study, some of the most popular games for American teens are: Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution. Interestingly, half of the boys surveyed said one of their three favorite games had a Mature or Adult rating.

How much do parents know about the games their kids are playing?

While a study from the Entertainment Software Association suggest that about 90% of parents pay attention to the games their kids are playing, the Pew study found that only 30% of 8-18 year olds said their parents had rules about the games they were allowed to play.

What is the impact of games?

Academics, policy makers and parents have long discussed how video games affect children’s health, behavior and education but have reached no consensus.

Whereas some research has found that violent video game use is associated with increased aggressive behavior in children, another study reveals a link between playing video games and greater creativity. Similarly, while one study found a correlation between video game, television use and increased attention problems, another study saw a relationship between playing video games and enhanced visual attention.

There have also been forays into understanding the educational value of video games. One public school in New York City has even adopted game-like learning into its curriculum.

By Masuma Ahuja  |  04:28 PM ET, 01/31/2013

 
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