Study Finds More Parents Concerned About Media Than Guns

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."

8 comments about "Study Finds More Parents Concerned About Media Than Guns".
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  1. Jenifer Kramer from Jenerosity Marketing, January 10, 2013 at 2:20 p.m.

    Seriously? This kind of stuff makes me crazy. Where has parental responsibility gone? Why would a parent take a kid to a movie that had violence in it if the child is too young to handle it? They are the parent, they should have a say in what their child watches and (more importantly) have a handle on what their child is ready to deal with emotionally.

    At its core, this is the same issue faced by QSR companies when health experts try to claim that childhood obesity is the result of kid's meal toys. Parents have the power and the ability to say no to their child regarding what they eat. My parents certainly did. Why can't parents today seem to take on this responsibility? I just don't get it...

  2. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, January 10, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.

    This survey answer makes sense... Namely that video game violence is something they encounter all the time. And so many homes don't have guns making the idea of gun violence far less immediate. And even those with guns manage them so that where video games are a daily argument, guns only come up sporadically and there's probably less arguing about it. That said, this survey result doesn't tell us that video games ARE a bigger problem - just the top of mind problem.

  3. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, January 10, 2013 at 4:19 p.m.

    @Jenifer, the survey did not ask parents who was responsible for our violent culture, it simply asked what they felt was contributing to violence in the United States from a set of specific options. While we focused on media, 93% of the respondents also cited "the lack of supervision for children."

  4. Jenifer Kramer from Jenerosity Marketing, January 10, 2013 at 4:24 p.m.

    @Joe, thank you so much for the additional information. It is highly encouraging to know that other individuals see the need for more parental involvement, etc.

  5. John Grono from GAP Research, January 10, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.

    We get the same sort of "the media causes all woes" results here in Australia when surveys are conducted. There are parallels and differences to the US. First, we receive and watch a lot of US (and British) programming alongside our (smaller) local productions. And yes among them are violent TV programmes. We get the same movie releases. We play the same video games on consoles and online. We see the same abrogation of parental duty in surveys as well. But we don't have the same gun-related fatality rate as the US (and by many orders of magnitude, with majority of gun-related fatalities being drug-gang related). So what is the difference? We have strictly controlled gun ownership laws and we had a gun buy-back following a tragic deranged shooting. Conclusion: there is little evidence that the media is driving these tragedies but there sure seems to be a strong correlation to ease of access to guns. Repeat the exercise for most other western countries in the world and you will in general find the same.

  6. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, January 10, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.

    @John - just curious what the degree of "crisis intensity" is on the news. It has been hypothesized that the US news channels are far more prone to make anything into a crisis and that contributes to the violence. But I don't have enough experience to know how true this might be. Like CNN headlines stating "your kids might become killers by playing video games" - where most viewers miss the "most"...

  7. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, January 10, 2013 at 10:23 p.m.

    Sorry... Miss the "might"

  8. John Grono from GAP Research, January 10, 2013 at 10:46 p.m.

    Doug - unfortunately we're increasingly alarmist on our news broadcasts and very much so alarmist and sensationalist in our current affairs brodcasts ... "How home invaders could target you next" ... that sort of clap-trap. We even had our Opposition Leader declare that a seaport town would be "wiped off the map" because we've introduced a carbon tax, but all so that he could get another soundbite on the news. Fortunately for the good folk of Whyalla six months after the tax's introduction all is well.

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