Dads clearly tolerate violence more than moms. Thats clear. But they all agree on sexuality and body image.
These are a few of the outcomes of our recent study. According to our research it is very evident that dads are more tolerant to violence and scary elements in kids’ apps than moms. Scary messages and violence in kids’ apps were ‘the top of the list’ where moms and dads differ. Clearly dads think children can absorb violent and scary messages almost a year younger.
If you missed our short excerpt about the research – click here to get up to speed.
Although both moms and dads thought that the age rating of the apps and games presented by publishers on the app stores were totally off and inappropriate, according to the findings, fathers considered acceptable scary and violent messages for children almost a year younger than mothers did (10 months to be exact), on average. The gaps between the app stores ratings and what dads considered appropriate were 5 & 6.5 years (for violence & scary messages respectively) whereas in mothers’ cases, the gaps were 6 & 7.5 years.
To translate those findings into layman terms – what is published on the app stores as 5 year-old-appropriate should have been classified as appropriate for 10-11.5 y.o. by the fathers, and by the mothers more like 11-12.5 y.o.
Despite the differences, both gaps are enormous in terms of child cognitive development and ability to understand the media they are engaging with.
Another fascinating finding is the fact that fathers where more lenient across all aspects measured. For body image, sexuality and anti-social messaging in apps and games, the gap was between 1.5 to 2.5 months (in terms of age appropriateness). Those were consistent & meaningful gaps in terms of expressing attitude more than the actual aspect of child development.
Maybe the most interesting aspect in comparing fathers and mothers, is the order in which they found the different inappropriate aspects and the age gap they saw.
Both parents, regardless of gender, found body image to be by far the most misclassified domain by publishers. The gap between the age classification and what parents thought is appropriate soared to 11.5 years. This means that a 6 year old is exposed to issues the parents feel is appropriate for an 18 year old.
On that list, sexuality was next in line with a 9 year gap between reality and what’s right according to the parents, and anti-social messages followed with a 7.5 years gap.
The hierarchy in the discoveries made about importance of body image, sexuality, anti-social, scary and violent messages, for both genders, is very interesting indeed. Apparently parents are most protective when it comes to their child’s body image and sexual education and are more comfortable or better yet – less uncomfortable- when it comes to violence.
One explanation provided by some experts is that body image and sexuality are issues that more people deal with longer in life and therefore get more top-of-mind representation.
Further research into these findings is clearly required and welcomed.
But the bottom line remains the same. Relying on content ratings provided by publishers is a major mistake and will most likely result in a young child’s exposure to messages that he/she is not yet ready for.