Harris Poll: 58 Percent of Adults Believe Playing Video Games Cause Violence

GamesBeat seems to have secured the exclusive on a new poll from national polling outfit Harris Poll about video games. The poll, which questioned 2,278 U.S. adults found that nearly three in five adult Americans – or 58 percent – think that video games contribute to violent behavior in teenagers. Further, 38 percent of respondents said that they knew nothing about the Electronic Software Rating Board’s (ESRB) system for rating video games, while 33 percent of the adults surveyed said that they let their children play whatever games they want regardless of ratings.

Nearly half of respondents, or 47 percent, said that they are not confident in the ability for the ESRB ratings to keep mature games out of the reach of children, while 32 percent said that they are confident that the game ratings can do so. Those surveyed said that they had more faith in the movie (49 percent) and TV (39 percent) ratings systems. That last part is ironic because it isn't based in reality if you believe the Federal Trade Commission's studies that show that the video game industry is better at enforcing its age-rating system than movies or music.

Finally, more than a third of respondents said that they do not understand the ESRB rating system, with only 14 percent of respondents claiming to fully understand the guidelines and 18 percent saying they understood a lot of it.

“The findings underscore the lack of awareness Americans have about the video game rating system, as well as the confusion in the market,” Harris Poll president Mike de Vere said in a statement. “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.”

Full results of the survey will be released on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see how the polling organization worded its questions and how the demographic of those polled breaks down in terms of political affiliation, age, race, gender, etc. If the data is taken at face value it sure looks like the ESRB and the video games industry have a lot of work to do in order to better inform parents about understanding and using the ratings system.

Thanks to Cheater87 for the tip.

Source: GamesBeat



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  1. 0
    Bigman-K says:

    Seeing as everything we watch, play, read and listen to effects us and has the ability to shape our thoughts and feelings in some way, and give us inspiration and ideas, then it is possible that some people may become desensitized to violence by exposure to media containing violence, and/or think violence is a more acceptable way of dealing with real world problems by exposure to media containing violence. But it doesn't actually cause violent behavior. Playing a violent video game will not cause a teenagers to go into an altered or trans like state, causing them to commit acts of violence they wouldn't otherwise do in their normal state of mind. Not only that but the same effect can be seen no matter what the violent content of the media is, as watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and reading a violent passage out of the Bible can have the same effect as playing a gruesome violent game.

    Most importantly we can not restrict, regulate or censor Free Speech because of how it effects our thoughts and feeling, or because it can give us ideas or inspiration. Giving the state this kind of power would be very dangerous and is nothing more then an indirect form of thought and mind control. Would the majority of people think we should ban the Holy Bible or Holy Koran because of the violence committed in the name of religion or God. I don't think so.

  2. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    GameStop doesn't care if you're buying it for a minor either.  Its policy states that it will not sell M-rated games to minors.  That's it.

    From http://www.gamestop.com/stores/playground/parents.aspx

    "We DO NOT sell, reserve, or offer Mature rated games to customers under 17 years of age. When a Mature game is scanned, an ESRB advisory appears on the register screen requiring employees to ask any under-age customer for a valid photo ID, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian."


    Andrew Eisen

  3. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    Amazon.com doesn't care if I'm buying for a minor. They allow me to do my job as a parent and they don't try to do it for me, which is the way it should be.

  4. 0
    Imautobot says:

    I doubt any company that restricts these sales are "Nanny Corporations."  They're like any other business, if there is profit to be had they'll go after it.  But since we live in a litigious society, they most likely restrict access to prevent getting sued by irate and ignorant parents.

  5. 0
    Overcast says:

    I cannot think of a video game that is more violent than many movies out there.

    Movies for example: Hostel, SAW, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    As a general rule, both movies and even music tend to trump video games with 'suggestive violence' levels.

  6. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    "at gamestop, we had multiple signs explaining the system, and a blurb on the TV explaining that we restrict purchases of any Mature rated games."

    Which is why I don't shop at Gamestop anymore. If I want my family to be restricted from playing games, I'll be the one doing the restricting, or (if I ever want someone else to limit my freedom) I'll go live in Australia where the government does the censorship. I'm damned if I'm going to give money to a corporation that wants to restrict what I buy, as if they know what's good for me.

    Fuck 'nanny' corporations.

  7. 0
    ddrfr33k says:

    Which begs the question:  does anyone even see the campaigns that the esrb runs?  When I worked in the electronics department at shopko, we had a bunch of signs for "play the game that's right for you."  And at gamestop, we had multiple signs explaining the system, and a blurb on the TV explaining that we restrict purchases of any Mature rated games.  I made it a point to explain the system to parents who brought their kids in.  Most didn't care.

    You reap what you sow?

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