The depiction of violence in the media is a greater concern than “easy access to guns,” according to a national study surveying parents on the main contributors to America’s “culture of violence.” The study, which was commissioned by Common Sense Media and the Center for American Progress, found that 77% of parents blame the media -- especially egregious violence depicted in TV, movies and video games -- as the primary factor vs. 75% who cited easy access to guns.
The findings comes as advocacy groups, regulators and lawmakers at local, state and federal levels are pushing for greater controls over guns -- especially assault weapons -- and have also hinted at the role of media in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, CT. While no explicit legislation has been advanced addressing potential laws that would limit violence in the media, it has been a hot topic for years, and was a major factor in the content ratings system adopted by the TV industry during the late 1990s, as part of the so-called “v-chip” technology.
The study, which surveyed 1,050 parents with children 18 years or younger, found that most (75%) find it difficult to “shield” their children from violence, and most believe better controls need to be adopted for both guns and media violence.
In fact, 88% of the respondents said they want ads for violent games, movies and TV shows to be prevented from airing during programs viewed by large audiences of children. Professional sports coverage on television, especially the NFL and NBA, have come under fire recently for televising an extraordinary number of ads for violent video games.
"Parents are clearly concerned about how violence in media may be impacting their children," states James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. "Our culture of violence seems to have made it the new normal that parents who take their kids to a movie theater or gather to watch a football game are at risk of exposing them to inappropriate content that is marketing video games or films rated for more mature audiences."