Survey: Parents More Concerned About Video Games Than Online Porn

Aug 14, 2008 5:00 AM PST
SAN FRANCISCO — A recent survey by What They Play, an online parental guide to video games, found that a majority of respondents were more concerned about their children playing video games such as Grand Theft Auto than they were about them being exposed to online porn.

An overall assessment of how What They Play parents feel can be deduced from the combined results of two polls conducted in 2008, one in April and the other in August. The first had 1,266 respondents, and asked what content found in video games offended them the most. 37 percent said a man and a woman having sex, 27 percent answered two men kissing, 25 percent said a graphically severed head and 9% chose multiple use of the F-word.

The second survey asked 1,600 people what would most concern them if their 17-year-old had a sleepover with a friend. 49 percent said they would be most worried about their child smoking marijuana, 19 percent responded that they would be concerned about the minor playing Grand Theft Auto, 16 percent answered watching pornography and 14 percent said drinking beer would be of most concern.

Of particular note is the fact that the first survey did not specify the minor's age, while the second did. Clearly, most parents believe that their 17-year-olds are already acquainted with the particulars of sexual activity, whether they are not indulging in it themselves or not.

“These poll results demonstrate that parents are as apprehensive about their children’s media diets as they are about traditional social issues such as alcohol, drugs, violence and sex," What They Like President John Davison said.

Cheryl K. Olson, the co-author of Grand Theft Childhood, surmised that the results indicate a generalized fear among parents of the unknown elements in video games versus the known effects of drinking beer. The fact that the latter is better known, she theorized, made the threat less threatening.

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