Connection between video games and violent behavior in teens

Majority of U.S. adults admit to understanding little or nothing at all, about video game rating system.Many of them would never let their eight year old see an R-rated movie, but according to the findings from a January 2013 Harris Poll of 2,278 U.S. adults (above 18+) interviewed online, some children may be playing video games beyond their maturity level.

Only one-third of Americans (32%) say they understand everything or a lot about video game ratings and nearly two in five (38%) indicated they know nothing about the system, the majority (66%) of those U.S. adults with video game playing  children in their households, indicate using a video game’s rating to determine whether they allow their child to play it. Despite nearly three in five Americans (58%) agreeing that there is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behaviour, 33% of those with young gamers under their roofs indicate allowing those children to play whatever games they want.

“The findings underscore the lack of awareness Americans have about the video game rating system, as well as the confusion in the market,” stated Mike de Vere, President of the Harris Poll. “They also factor into a larger discussion playing out across our country and on a political stage around how violent games impact our youth, with President Obama recently announcing his desire to look into ways to fund research examining the impact of violent video games on children.”

Rated X

Only one-third of Americans (32%) indicate understanding either everything (14%) or a lot (18%) about video game ratings.
This compares poorly against familiarity with movie ratings (77% combined, 34% everything, 43% a lot) and TV ratings (50%-17%-34%).
• Roughly 3 in 10 Americans (31%) indicate knowing a little about video game ratings.
• Nearly 4 in 10 (38%) indicate knowing nothing about the system.
Americans have less confidence in video game ratings (32% somewhat or very confident) than in either movie (49%) or TV (39%)
ratings, being able to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content.
• Nearly 47% of Americans indicate being not at all confident in video game ratings’ ability to do so.

Is playing video games healthy?

The debate rages on, around the impact of video games on children, from obesity to violence, where an overwhelming 69% of Americans agree that playing video games is a good thing for children, as it can help with hand/eye coordination and provide other skills.Nearly six in ten Americans agree that there is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behavior (58%).

Another interesting point is that the majority agree that there is no difference between playing a violent video game and watching a violent movie (56%).

When choosing a video game for your child you should be aware of the content and the rating of the video game. Educational video game can improve the skills, whereas the violent ones can influence your child behavior. (More at:Video games advantages)

Whose problem is this?

When asked about the regulation of video games, 73% strongly agree, and 90% either somewhat or strongly agree, that parents should be the chief regulators, when it comes to what video games children are allowed to play. While parents are clearly seen as the primary party that should be charged with this type of oversight, there are mixed feelings on the role other parties should play:
• 56% agree that the government should not interfere when it comes to who can and cannot buy video games
• 47% agree that there should be government regulations on violent video games to ensure limited access to them.
• 52% agree that industry self-regulation, including ratings and retailer enforcement, is the best way to regulate which
video games children are allowed to play.

Women are more likely than men, to agree that parents should be the chief regulators (92%-87%) and that there is a link between playing violent games and teens exhibiting violent behavior (62%-53%). Men are more likely to strongly agree that the government should not interfere when it comes to who can and can not buy video games (33%-24%).

To view the full findings and data tables, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive being one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transforms relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, it offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research.

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