Majority of Americans See Connection Between Video Games and Violent Behavior in Teens

Harris Poll Finds One-Third of Those with Young Game Players(1) Do Not Censor Games

Majority of U.S. Adults Admit to Understanding Little or Nothing About Video Game Rating System

Feb 27, 2013, 05:30 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Many Americans would never let their eight year old see an R-rated movie, but according to findings from a January 2013 Harris Poll of 2,278 U.S. adults (ages 18+) interviewed online, some children may be playing video games beyond their maturity level. While only one-third of Americans (32%) said they understand everything or a lot about video game ratings and nearly two in five (38%) indicated they know nothing about the system, the majority (66%) of those U.S. adults with video game-playing children in their households indicate using a video game's rating to determine whether they allow their child to play it. And, despite nearly three in five Americans (58%) agreeing that there is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behavior, 33% of those with young gamers under their roofs indicate allowing those children to play whatever games they want.


"The findings underscore the lack of awareness Americans have about the video game rating system, as well as the confusion in the market," said Mike de Vere, President of the Harris Poll. "They also factor into a larger discussion playing out across our country and on a political stage around how violent games impact our youth, with President Obama recently announcing his desire to look into ways to fund research examining the impact of violent video games on children."

Rated X

Only a combined one-third of Americans (32%) indicate understanding either everything (14%) or a lot (18%) about video game ratings, which compares poorly against familiarity with movie ratings (77% combined, 34% everything, 43% a lot) and TV ratings (50%-17%-34%).

  • Roughly three in ten Americans (31%) indicate knowing a little about video game ratings.
  • Nearly four in ten (38%) indicate knowing nothing about the system.

Americans also have less confidence in video game ratings (32% somewhat or very confident) than in either movie (49%) or TV (39%) ratings being able to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content. 

  • Nearly half (47%) of Americans indicate being not at all confident in video game ratings' ability to do so.

Playing Video Games is… Healthy?

As the debate rages on around the impact of video games on children, from obesity to violence, an overwhelming 69% of Americans agree that playing video games is a good thing for children as it can help with hand/eye coordination and provide other skills.  However, nearly six in ten Americans agree that there is a link between playing violent video games and teenagers showing violent behavior (58%).

In addition:

  • The majority agree that there is no difference between playing a violent video game and watching a violent movie (56%);

Whose Problem Is It?

When asked about the regulation of video games, nearly three-fourths (73%) strongly agree, and 9 in 10 (90%) either somewhat or strongly agree, that parents should be the chief regulators when it comes to what video games children are allowed to play. 

While parents are clearly seen as the primary party that should be charged with this type of oversight, there are mixed feelings on the role other parties should play:

  • More than half (56%) agree that the government should not interfere when it comes to who can and cannot buy video games, but 47% agree that there should be government regulations on violent video games to ensure limited access to them.
  • Additionally, roughly half of Americans (52%) agree that industry self-regulation, including ratings and retailer enforcement, is the best way to regulate which video games children are allowed to play.
  • Women are more likely than men to agree that parents should be the chief regulators (92%-87%) and that there is a link between playing violent games and teens exhibiting violent behavior (62%-53%), while men are more likely to strongly agree that the government should not interfere when it comes to who can and can not buy video games (33%-24%).

For more information, or to view the full findings and data tables, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 17 and 22, 2013 among 2,278 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #10, February 27, 2013

About Harris Interactive

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(1) U.S. adults (18 and older) with children under 18 who play video games in household

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SOURCE Harris Interactive