Study: 58 percent of US adults blame games for violent behavior

Harris Poll finds nearly three in five American adults believe games contribute to violent tendencies in teenagers; 38 percent know nothing about ESRB.

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A new Harris Poll survey has found that 58 percent of adult Americans believe video games are a contributing factor to violent behavior in teenagers. Venturebeat obtained the survey, which interviewed 2,278 adults in the United States.

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In addition, 38 percent of survey respondents said they were unaware of the ratings service provided by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. On top of this, 33 percent of adults surveyed said they allow their children to play whatever 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," Harris Poll president Mike de Vere said in a statement. "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."

The Harris Poll study also found that 47 percent do not have faith in the ESRB ratings to keep mature-rated games away from children. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they were confident that the ratings system can achieve this, which is lower than the confidence rating for movie (49 percent) and TV (39 percent) ratings systems.

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole said recently that violent video games do not cause violence. Parents Television Council president Tim Winter agreed that video games do not--by themselves--cause violence. However, he argued the topic is especially important to address today, when media has become a 24/7 activity for children.

President Obama recently announced a $500 million, 23-point plan that directs the Centers for Disease Control to conduct further research into the relationship between virtual violence and real-world violence. Separately, Utah representative Jim Matheson has introduced a bill to Congress that would make Entertainment Software Rating Board ratings legally enforceable.

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