Majority of Americans See Connection Between Video Games and Violent Behavior in Teens

NEW YORK, N.Y. – February 27, 2013 – Many Americans would never let their eight year old see an R-rated movie, but according to findings from a January 2013 Harris Poll of 2,278 U.S. adults (ages 18+) interviewed online, some children may be playing video games beyond their maturity level. While only one-third of Americans (32%) said 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. And, despite nearly three in five Americans (58%) agreeing that there is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behavior, 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, said 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 a combined one-third of Americans (32%) indicate understanding either everything (14%) or a lot (18%) about video game ratings, which compares poorly against familiarity with movie ratings (77% combined, 34% everything, 43% a lot) and TV ratings (50%-17%-34%).

· Roughly three in ten Americans (31%) indicate knowing a little about video game ratings.

· Nearly four in ten (38%) indicate knowing nothing about the system.

Americans also 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 half (47%) of Americans indicate being not at all confident in video game ratings’ ability to do so.

Playing Video Games is… Healthy?

As the debate rages on around the impact of video games on children, from obesity to violence, 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. However, nearly six in ten Americans agree that there is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behavior (58%).

In addition:

· The majority agree that there is no difference between playing a violent video game and watching a violent movie (56%);

Whose Problem Is It?

When asked about the regulation of video games, nearly three-fourths (73%) strongly agree, and 9 in 10 (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:

· More than half (56%) agree that the government should not interfere when it comes to who can and cannot buy video games, but 47% agree that there should be government regulations on violent video games to ensure limited access to them.

· Additionally, roughly half of Americans (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%), while 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%).


 

TABLE 1

TV & VIDEO GAME REGULATING HABITS

by Gender & Play Video Games

[Summary of Sometimes / Very Often (NET) and Very often Ratings]

How often do you…?

Base: Child(ren) in HH

Total

Gender

Play Video Games

Children Play Video Games

Males

Females

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

Regulate the types of TV shows your child(ren) are allowed to watch

70

62

76

74

66

74

50

42

54

53

46

52

Regulate when your child(ren) are allowed to watch TV

68

59

73

71

64

71

42

33

48

46

38

43

Regulate how much time your child(ren) spend watching TV

68

58

73

71

64

70

40

31

45

43

36

40

Regulate when your child(ren) are allowed to play video games

58

52

61

68

45

71

40

37

42

49

28

50

Regulate how much time your child(ren) spend playing video games

58

56

59

67

46

71

38

33

40

45

28

46

Regulate the types of video games your child(ren) are allowed to play

58

49

63

65

48

70

42

37

45

48

34

52

Note: Multiple response question

 

 

 

 


 

TABLE 2

HOW DECIDE WHAT VIDEO GAMES CHILD(REN) ARE ALLOWED TO PLAY

by Gender & Play Video Games

[Summary of Somewhat/Strongly Agree (NET) and Strongly Agree Ratings]

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Base: Video game playing child(ren) in HH

Total

Gender

Play Video Games

Males

Females

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

I know what video games my child(ren) are playing almost all the time

88

86

90

93

81

53

43

59

53

53

I use a video game’s rating to help decide if I will allow my child(ren) to play it

66

62

68

67

63

21

19

22

23

18

I play video games myself before deciding if I will allow my child(ren) to play them

43

48

40

56

20

12

13

12

17

4

When it comes to video games, I allow my child(ren) to play whatever they want

33

34

32

33

33

8

7

9

5

14

Note: Multiple response question

 

 

 

TABLE 3a

UNDERSTANDING OF RATING SYSTEMS

Summary Table

How much do you understand about the following rating systems?

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Everything + A lot (NET)

Everything

A lot

A little + Nothing (NET)

A little

Nothing

%

%

%

%

%

%

Movie ratings

(G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17)

77

34

43

23

20

3

Television ratings

(TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, TV-MA, L, D, S, V, FV)

50

17

34

50

38

12

Video game ratings

(EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO)

32

14

18

68

31

38

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 


 

TABLE 3b

UNDERSTANDING OF RATING SYSTEMS

by Region, Age & Gender

[Summary of Everything / A lot (NET) and Everything Ratings]

How much do you understand about the following rating systems?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Ages

Gender

Ages 18-35

Ages 36-47

Ages 48-66

Ages 67+

Males

Females

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Movie ratings

(G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17)

77

81

80

77

63

74

79

34

43

40

30

20

34

34

Television ratings

(TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, TV-MA, L, D, S, V, FV)

50

57

60

48

31

51

50

17

24

23

12

6

18

16

Video game ratings

(EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO)

32

58

41

18

5

34

30

14

30

17

6

 

17

12

Note: Multiple responses

Note: Only responses of 2% or higher shown; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.

 

 

 

TABLE 3c

UNDERSTANDING OF RATING SYSTEMS

by Children in HH, Children Play Video Games, Respondent Plays Video Games

[Summary of Everything / A lot (NET) and Everything Ratings]

How much do you understand about the following rating systems?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Children in HH / Children Play VG’s

Play Video Games

Yes

No

Yes & Play Video Games

Yes & Don’t Play Video Games

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Movie ratings

(G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17)

77

82

75

83

77

83

72

34

40

32

43

32

43

27

Television ratings

(TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, TV-MA, L, D, S, V, FV)

50

62

46

63

58

60

42

17

26

14

27

21

24

11

Video game ratings

(EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO)

32

52

24

57

37

50

17

14

24

10

29

11

24

6

Note: Multiple responses

Note: Only responses of 2% or higher shown; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.

 

 


 

TABLE 4a

CONFIDENCE IN RATING SYSTEMS

Summary Table

And how confident are you in the ability of these rating systems to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content?

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Very confident + Somewhat confident

(NET)

Very confident

Somewhat confident

A little confident + Not at all confident (NET)

A little confident

Not at all confident

%

%

%

%

%

%

Movie ratings

(G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17)

49

20

29

51

23

28

Television ratings

(TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, TV-MA, L, D, S, V, FV)

39

13

25

61

24

37

Video game ratings

(EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO)

32

10

22

68

22

47

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

TABLE 4b

CONFIDENCE IN RATING SYSTEMS

by Region, Age & Gender

[Summary of Very/Somewhat confident (NET) and Very confident Ratings]

And how confident are you in the ability of these rating systems to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Ages

Gender

Ages 18-35

Ages 36-47

Ages 48-66

Ages 67+

Males

Females

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Movie ratings

(G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17)

49

62

56

43

30

46

52

20

27

22

16

14

19

21

Television ratings

(TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, TV-MA, L, D, S, V, FV)

39

51

47

33

20

36

42

13

19

18

10

7

13

14

Video game ratings

(EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO)

32

51

40

21

12

29

33

10

20

12

5

2

10

10

Note: Multiple responses

Note: Only responses of 2% or higher shown; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.

 

 


 

TABLE 4c

CONFIDENCE IN RATING SYSTEMS

by Children in HH, Children Play Video Games, Respondent Plays Video Games

[Summary of Very/Somewhat confident (NET) and Very confident Ratings]

And how confident are you in the ability of these rating systems to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Children in HH / Children Play VG’s

Play Video Games

Yes

No

Yes & Play Video Games

Yes & Don’t Play Video Games

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Movie ratings

(G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17)

49

64

43

68

54

56

43

20

27

17

27

25

23

17

Television ratings

(TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, TV-MA, L, D, S, V, FV)

39

57

32

60

49

46

33

13

21

11

21

21

17

11

Video game ratings

(EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO)

32

53

23

58

39

44

21

10

16

8

17

14

15

6

Note: Multiple responses

Note: Only responses of 2% or higher shown; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.

 

 


 

TABLE 5a

AGREEMENT WITH VIDEO GAMES STATEMENTS

Summary Table

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Strongly agree + Somewhat agree

(NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Somewhat disagree + Strongly disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Not at all sure

%

%

%

%

%

%

Parents should be the chief regulators when it comes to what video games children are allowed to play.

90

73

17

5

2

3

5

Playing video games is a good thing for children as it can help with hand/eye coordination and provide other skills.

69

20

50

23

16

7

8

There is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behavior.

58

27

31

32

18

13

10

There is no difference between playing a violent video game and watching a violent movie.

56

26

30

37

25

12

7

The government should not interfere when it comes to who can or can not buy video games.

56

28

28

37

22

14

8

Industry self-regulation, including ratings and retailer enforcement, is the best way to regulate which video games children are allowed to play.

52

17

35

38

22

16

10

There should be government regulations on violent video games to ensure limited access to them.

47

22

25

45

21

24

7

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 


 

TABLE 5b

AGREEMENT WITH VIDEO GAMES STATEMENTS

by Region, Age & Gender

[Summary of Strongly/Somewhat agree (NET) and Strongly agree Ratings]

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Ages

Gender

Ages 18-35

Ages 36-47

Ages 48-66

Ages 67+

Males

Females

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Parents should be the chief regulators when it comes to what video games children are allowed to play.

90

87

88

93

89

87

92

73

65

75

78

69

72

73

Playing video games is a good thing for children as it can help with hand/eye coordination and provide other skills.

69

70

73

70

60

71

68

20

21

24

17

16

21

19

There is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behavior.

58

46

53

64

71

53

62

27

16

25

32

35

23

30

There is no difference between playing a violent video game and watching a violent movie.

56

58

57

53

58

56

56

26

25

27

26

25

26

26

The government should not interfere when it comes to who can or can not buy video games.

56

59

63

50

51

59

53

28

26

33

27

27

33

24

Industry self-regulation, including ratings and retailer enforcement, is the best way to regulate which video games children are allowed to play.

52

58

54

50

43

52

52

17

22

15

15

17

18

17

There should be government regulations on violent video games to ensure limited access to them.

47

39

39

52

63

44

50

22

14

17

27

35

20

24

Note: Multiple responses

Note: Only responses of 2% or higher shown; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.

 

 


 

TABLE 5c

AGREEMENT WITH VIDEO GAMES STATEMENTS

by Children in HH, Children Play Video Games, Respondent Plays Video Games

[Summary of Strongly/Somewhat agree (NET) and Strongly agree Ratings]

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Children in HH / Children Play VG’s

Play Video Games

Yes

No

Yes & Play Video Games

Yes & Don’t Play Video Games

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Parents should be the chief regulators when it comes to what video games children are allowed to play.

90

90

90

91

87

88

92

73

71

73

71

69

71

74

Playing video games is a good thing for children as it can help with hand/eye coordination and provide other skills.

69

75

67

79

62

78

62

20

24

18

28

12

28

12

There is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behavior.

58

53

60

50

60

49

65

27

22

28

20

27

20

32

There is no difference between playing a violent video game and watching a violent movie.

56

56

56

58

50

59

54

26

25

27

24

28

29

24

The government should not interfere when it comes to who can or can not buy video games.

56

60

54

62

54

60

52

28

26

29

28

22

31

26

Industry self-regulation, including ratings and retailer enforcement, is the best way to regulate which video games children are allowed to play.

52

60

49

60

61

58

47

17

23

15

22

26

20

16

There should be government regulations on violent video games to ensure limited access to them.

47

43

49

40

50

41

52

22

17

24

16

21

18

26

Note: Multiple responses

Note: Only responses of 2% or higher shown; indicates <0.5%; – indicates 0%.

 

 


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 17 and 22, 2013 among 2,278 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll ® #10, February 27, 2013

About Harris Interactive

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[1] U.S. adults (18 and older) with children under 18 who play video games in household