Monday, October 04, 2004

Study Shows Parents Want Tighter Controls on TV Content

Study Shows Parents Want Tighter Controls on TV Content
By Jim Brown
September 30, 2004

(AgapePress) - A new survey called Parents, Media, and Public Policy found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. parents want federal regulations to limit sex and violence on television.

Researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation say 63 percent of parents who were polled said they would like to see limits placed on televised sex and violence during the early evening hours when children are more likely to be watching. And just over half of those surveyed said they would like to see regulators apply content standards to cable stations.

The Kaiser Family Foundation study found that the majority of parents say they are very concerned about TV sex and violence. Slightly fewer of the adults polled said the same about adult language, but sexual content was for most the issue of greatest concern.

Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, says mothers and fathers are convinced there is a definite connection between television viewing and inappropriate behavior by children, and they overwhelmingly favor a law to restrict sex and violence during the so-called "family hour."

Rideout observes, "Parents don't hesitate to link what's on TV with kids behavior, with half saying they think that sex on TV contributes a lot to young people becoming involved in sexual situations before they're ready, and 44 percent saying the same thing about TV violence and violent behavior."

The foundation's survey indicates that parents are more concerned about inappropriate content on television than in other media, including the Internet, movies, music, and video games. Half of all parents say they have made use of the TV ratings for various programs to help them guide their youngsters' viewing, with many finding these ratings very useful (38 percent) or somewhat useful (50 percent).

But the Kaiser Family Foundation president notes that many moms and dads are confused by television content ratings. For example, many parents of young children do not know that TV-Y7 indicates programming directed to children age 7 and older, while a significant number (13 percent) think it signifies just the opposite.

"One big problem that the ratings system clearly has," Rideout says, "is that far too few parents understand what the various ratings categories mean, and this is especially true regarding the ratings for children's programs."

Concerned parents now have such technological options as the V-Chip to help them screen programming for their families. That electronic monitoring chip was required to be included in all TV sets over a certain size after January 2000. However, the Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that only 15 percent of all parents polled have used the device.

The study also noted that children's TV viewing can have economic implications for families as well, since TV programs and commercials often target young people as potential consumers. Half the parents say they think food ads greatly influence children's food choices and eating habits, and about a third say their own children often ask them to buy things at the grocery store because they have seen them advertised on TV.