Willem Oosting is a PhD student studying Parental Mediation on children's digital game behavior with an interest in both social and technological sciences. He holds a BSc in mechatronical engineering from Fontys UPE and received his MSc degree in Human Technology Interaction from the TU/e acronym >.
As part of his education he engaged in various CAD and software development projects within the field of robotics. On a more theoretical level he was involved in various perception and cognition research projects (such as: quantification of 3d viewing experience and transferability of visual feedback on exponential growth estimations). His thesis research was focused on appliance of non-stereoscopic 3d cues in a virtual window to elicit a 'see through experience'.
After he received his degree he was employed as a webmaster, using mainly open source solutions to create a user friendly CMS. Additionally, he worked as a usability engineer to enhance telemedicine systems from a user centered design perspective. However, eventually his scientific interests in human behavior and computer science made him return to academics to pursue a PhD. He accepted the offer to become a scholar within the Game Experience LAB where he is currently avidly studying parental mediation on children's gaming behavior.
Playing computer games is a popular form of entertainment among both children and adults. Online friendships are forged, cognitive and perceptual systems are enhanced and technology skills are developed. Many parents are convinced of the positive effects games have on their children. However, traditionally parents also worry about negative behavioral effects such as social isolation and aggressive behavior.
When Atari released its commercial version of Pong during the seventies, it was the first digital game that received attention other than from enthusiastic pioneers in R&D labs. Soon children were willing to spend time and dime on various coin operated video game machines in fully equipped arcade halls. Some parents were worried by this and bought television connected game consoles to duplicate the thrill of the arcades but to do so within the protected environment of the home. This can be considered one of the first acts of parental mediation on children's digital game behavior.
Today, games are technologically advanced, ubiquitously available, and have become a mainstream entertainment option, eagerly consumed by the great majority of children who have access to them. This makes parental mediation of digital games a complicated balancing act between respecting a child's needs and wishes, and the parent's own norms/beliefs and knowledge about games, but also influenced by more general views on what is regarded to be "healthy" behavior.
Taking both this complexity and the knowledge that children mainly play digital games at home (Nikken, 2003) into account it is striking to see how little is actually known about parental dealings with games. Similar to the perspective Kutner and Olson (2008) take in their book 'Grand Theft Childhood', we believe that contextual factors (in this case: parental mediation) is fundamental to understand the phenomenon of digital game experiences as a whole. Therefore questions such as: what are parental motivations for mediation, how are their mediation strategies influenced, and what implications do they have for the gamers' experiences are central to this PhD project.