Haninger and Thompson encourage physicians, particularly pediatricians and specialists in adolescent medicine, to ask patients and their parents about their experiences with video games and to actively mediate any potential health risks. They emphasize that parents remain in the best position to judge the appropriateness of game content for and with their children. With teens consuming large amounts of media containing content that might surprise parents and promote unhealthy behaviors, researchers believe parents should engage their children in discussions about media content.
"The results of this study and the recent glimpse of popular teen culture that parents saw in the Super Bowl half-time show should serve as a wake-up call to parents to pay attention to what's in their children's media diets," says senior author Thompson, who also is associate professor of Risk Analysis and Decision Science at Harvard School of Public Health. "All media educate children, whether intended or not. By using the ESRB rating information and actively engaging in their children's experiences with video games, parents can make the best choices and promote their children's healthy development."