Poll: Video Games Top Parents’ Worry Lists

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Recent surveys conducted by What They Play finds that parents are more concerned about the impact of video games on their children than the impacts of alcohol and pornography. The online polls, conducted in April and August, also found that parents are generally more accepting of violence in video games than with sexual content.

"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," said What They Like president John Davison, in a statement.

The first online poll, conducted in early April 2008, had 1,266 participants, 37 percent of whom reported they would be offended by a man and a woman having sex in a video game. Some 27 percent said two men kissing in a game would be offensive, 25 percent said a severed head would be offensive, and only nine percent said multiple uses of "the f-word" would be offensive.

A second online poll conducted in early August asked about what parents would be worried about a 17-year-old indulging in at a sleepover. Fully half the 1,600 respondents reported they’d be worried about their child smoking marijuana, while 19 percent would be worried about their child playing Grand Theft Auto—that’s more than the 16 percent who’d be concerned about kids watching porn, or the 14 percent who’d be concerned about the kids drinking beer at the sleepover.

It should be noted that What They Play’s online polls are entirely self-selecting, meaning visitors to the What They Play site decide whether they’d like to participate. Due to this sample bias, it’s statistically impossible to extrapolate the results to users of the What They Play site in general, let alone to, say, parents throughout the United States. It would be nice if a polling organization took on similar topics with a more statistically-represenative, randomly selected sample of parents with video-game-playing children.

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