Poll: US Adults Think Video Games Lead To Violence But Can't Be Bothered To Understand ESRB Ratings

from the wait,-what? dept

It just keeps coming. More and more news items are hitting my eyeballs and ears about violence and video games. We recently discussed the problem with polling adults over this issue, where a giant age-rift still exists amongst gaming habits and that rift appeared to be tossed out for the purposes of the poll in question. Polls like that might be laughable at first, but when you begin to see misplaced legislation introduced by politicians kowtowing to the results, we’ve got a problem. But let’s take it one possibly controversial step further and ask an important question regarding these polls: do Americans generally have any credibility on the question at all?

Polls like this recent Harris poll, where over half of American adults link violence and video games, make me question whether that is the case. The problem I have isn’t that specific result. If half of Americans think there’s a link, that’s their right. I can disagree with it, but I won’t quibble with their right to believe. No, my problem is the results of the follow up questions regarding the ESRB rating system.

Two thirds of US adults said they used the ESRB system to help them decide which games were suitable for their children, although only 14 percent claimed to fully understand what the guidelines meant. 18 percent of adult said they mostly, but not completely understood the ESRB ratings system.

To highlight the absurdity of the respondents, one needs only place all this in a single sentence. Over half of adults believe violence and video games are linked, two thirds of them use an ESRB system, which less than 80% even claim to mostly understand, to decide which games to buy for their children. This isn’t to say that the ESRB rating convention isn’t without its problems, but come on. If half of adults think there’s a link between children and violence, but can’t be bothered to mostly understand the rating system (which isn’t that complicated), then there’s a disconnect somewhere. Either adults don’t actually think the link exists, or else they don’t really consider the link to be all that important.

Either way, it doesn’t speak to the credibility of the American public on the issue, which is sad.

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Comments on “Poll: US Adults Think Video Games Lead To Violence But Can't Be Bothered To Understand ESRB Ratings”

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out_of_the_blue says:

No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

Without bothering to conform to sensible standards. Example in point, your “cow-towing” should be:

kowtow ═ n. the act of kneeling and touching the ground with the forehead to show great deference, submissive respect, homage, etc., as formerly in China vi. 1. to perform a kowtow 2. to show servile respect (to)

So, KEEP TOWING THOSE COWS, TIMMY! (May be code for one of his bizarre sex acts…)

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: No, Timmy, what's laughable is how young fools believe you know better:

DH I don’t think that specific term is the best here. When I first read the article I pictured a line of cows being guided all tied to each other (before the correction). Which seems much more on par with what you mean than the definition of kowtow. The term does not exist on the dictionary but I’ve checked and it is used precisely with that specific intent as some sort of slang.

It’s yet another lame attempt of attacking whatever he can. Because he has no argument.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re:

I have no problems with guns. Guns sit there and look pretty…

Idiots, on the other hand, I have a problem with.

It’s those idiots that make the rest of us look bad.

And sadly, idiots are very, very loud.

And messy.

And sadly, some idiots got into power and took away money from mental hospitals where all the crazy idiots were at, now they’re on the streets again and causing troubles.

Yeah, prison works soo much better, doesn’t it?

Mr. Smarta** (profile) says:

That's nothing

That’s nothing. The real problem is that 100% of video gamers play video games. That’s a horrid statistic as if video games make people more violent, then we’re headed for a revolution. For crying out loud!!! Do you realize just how bad it would be for Sim City gamers to venture out of their homes after a 96-hour gaming spree and violently build a city??? OMFG!!! How terrible!!! And let’s not forget the violent outbursts of those Angry Bird gamers. They might start buying shotguns and shooting sparrows or pidgeons off their roof!! Could you imagine the horror of seeing our children… OUR CHILDREN… playing Call of Duty games and suddenly signing up to fight in the Armed Forces just to go over and kill every terrorist they can find??

I mean, just look at the older generation! All those years of playing “Pole Position” in the arcades, and today those people who drove a digital car for endless hours while plunking in thousands of dollars in quarters and THEY’RE ON OUR ROADS DRIVING!!! Not to mention the Tennis players who go ballistic on the courts throwing tantrums, smashing their rackets, and flipping off the referee only to be fined heavily for their outbursts. You know what caused that???

PONG!!!! Hours and hours of PONG! Violently hitting a ball back and forth! Yeah, I’d lose it too. I always wondered why I wanted to break my badmitton racket in two during Phys. Ed. and stab someone in the neck with it.

It all makes perfect sense now. -.-

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Poll: US Adults prefer to blame media rather than
their complete lack of ability as parents.

What magic did these pollsters use to get parents to stop entertaining themselves and momentarily disengage from their selfish pursuits long enough to make a decision on whether they blame media or not for their lack of parental ability?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

I do think there's a link...

..but it doesn’t mean what a lot of people think it means.

I believe there’s sufficient evidence to postulate that people who are prone to violent action are attracted to violent things, including violent video games, movies, books, etc.

There’s little evidence to indicate that those things are likely to make them more violent, though. And there’s no evidence to indicate that a person who is not predisposed to violent action will become violent because of those things.

This is a classic correlation vs causation logical error.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I do think there's a link...

My understanding is there was a study on this. I believe (like what you’re saying) there was a finding that people who likely to do things like mass shootings were more likely to play violent video games. However, on the flip side, playing videos games in general had no impact on a person’s desire to do something like a mass shooting.

In other words, it’s a characteristic, but not a cause of the effect that is trying to be stopped.

The typical politician “there is a link, let’s axe it!” response has been generated from these results. Good thing I don’t try to make logical sense of politics, otherwise I’d have one hell of a constant headache.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You claimed that less than 80% mostly understood. That’s backwards from what I assume you were trying to claim (that less than 20% mostly understood.)

But what you are MISSING is the 14% who claimed to completely understand. The 18% who claimed to mostly understand is on top of that. So, 32% total claimed to either mostly or completely understand. That’s still bad, but not AS bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Your average kid after playing violent video games won’t shoot mom in the face and then go out and kill kids at a school.

On the other hand a Petsele taking psychotropic serotonin re-uptake inhibitors just might act out a violent video game.

I would appear that all the crazies that have shoot up various venues were in the later group.

One of the many warnings involved with these drugs is the sudden onset of Suicidal ideation. When the brains give a fuck switch is turned off by these drugs, what can it lead to?

Anonymous Coward says:

If you can’t tell the difference between a video game and real life, you got more problems than a video game. Maybe we should be asking the politicians where is the funding for public mental health institutions?

I gotta tell ya, I love just the sort of games they want to make sound like is the recipe for violence. I’ve spent a good amount of time in the military service, shooting weapons of all kinds. I have no inclination to go rob someone, go shoot someone, or even cause someone problems for the heck of it.

If anything, I’m more relaxed because I’ve taken all my aggressions out on the bad guys in a video game and have no need to do it elsewhere. It sure costs a lot less than buying weapons and ammunition.

I'm American and I think we're dumb. says:

There has to be a different method.

Even though the uneducated adults think that video games lead to violence, I think the protestors need to push more about games other than violence. For example… just because I play Skyrim constantly on my days off, doesn’t mean you’ll ever see me charging through the woods with a bow, firing arrows off at every thing that moves.

I have a friend who is freakishly obsessed with wrestling and football games, and he’s a scrawny theater major. You don’t see those games bulking him up so he can play in the NFL or in WWE. Not happening.

Or even more extreme – Harvest Moon (or for more internet savvy persons, the similar, but far less fun, Farmville). Just because I play Harvest Moon, doesn’t mean I’m going to go run off and marry a doctor, while also raising sixteen cows, eight chickens, while also somehow being able to earn thousands of dollars a day just by growing vegetables.

Why can’t we push more for what all games don’t do? Those politicians and the uneducated adults say CoD and Gears of War and every other game with a gun will make people violent. But if that’s true, why am I not a thief with awesome archery skills, that can also run a multi-million dollar farm. (I so wish I was.)

Just Another Moron In A Hurry (profile) says:

34% of Adults

I don’t know if I’m quite as concerned as Tim is by the idea that 34% of Adults don’t know how the ESRB system works.

I wouldn’t say I fully understand it myself. I understand the basic principles, and I feel comfortable enough to utilize it proficiently, but I wouldn’t be considered an expert about the mechanics behind why one game is rated M and another isn’t.

I wonder what the other options were? Was there an option that says “I know enough about it to use it properly”? If so, I would expect a majority of people to select that one.

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