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Survey: Parents Want Nets to Stop Violent Ads When Kids Are Watching

A nationwide survey of parents of kids under 18,
commissioned by Common Sense Media and the Center for American Progress, finds
88% want to stop seeing advertising for violent games, movies and TV shows on
programs viewed by large audiences of children.

In conjunction with the release of the survey results,
Common Sense Media—a San Francisco-based child and family advocacy group—offered
six recommendations, including asking that broadcast, cable and satellite
TV networks institute a voluntary moratorium on all ads for violent games and
movies when large numbers of children are watching.

Among the group's other recommendations:

  • The FTC and FCC should place restrictions on marketing
    violent video games, violent movie trailers and violent TV promotions when
    significant numbers of children are watching.
  • Media and entertainment organizations should display prominent, consistent and
    independent ratings for television programs, video games and movies across all
    marketing materials and platforms, including online and mobile.
  • The National Association of Theater Owners and the Motion Picture Association
    of America should jointly agree to dictate that movie theaters should only show
    previews, trailers and promos for movies that have the same or younger MPAA
    rating than the feature film being shown at that time.
  • The FTC must require the gun industry to explicitly and transparently reveal
    all product placements and other marketing practices and tie-ins with the video
    game industry.
  • The U.S. Department of Education and the State Departments of Education should
    include citizenship skills and training as a core curriculum standard.

"Parents are clearly concerned about how violence in media
may be impacting their children," said 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."

The survey was completed on Jan. 4 and 5 and conducted by
Survey USA Market Research. It randomly selected 1,050 parents with children 18
and younger living at home to answer questions about factors that could
contribute to violence in America. Respondents needed to be able to view videos
on their computers, tablets or smartphones to be eligible to participate in the

As part of the survey, parents were shown a video ad for the
game Hitman: Absolution. Eighty-four
percent of parents said the ad is inappropriate to show on TV at a time when
children are watching. Parents were also shown a video of an ad for the movie Gangster Squad. Of those surveyed, 63%
said the ad is inappropriate to show on TV when kids are watching.

Overall, 77% of parents nationwide said violence in TV and
movies contributes to real-life violent actions, and 75% of those surveyed said
violence in video games contributes to real-life violence, while 64% said
violent toys are a contributor.

Among some other survey findings:

  • 85% of those surveyed said violence in TV shows and movies
    makes it more difficult to shield their kids from real-life violence.
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 meaning complete agreement, 47% assigned a 10 to
    their feeling that addressing violence in the U.S. will require taking action
    on violence in the media and keeping weapons away from kids. Another 13%
    assigned a 9 to that statement, 12% assigned an 8 and 10% a 7. Only 2% assigned
    a 1, which means they completely disagree.
  • 45% believe violence in today's video games is a major problem; 44% believe it's
    a minor problem; and 8% believe it is not a problem at all.

As to how the parents surveyed view the major broadcast TV
networks, 27% view them favorably; 36% view them somewhat favorably; 20% view
the broadcast networks neither favorably nor unfavorably; 10% view them
somewhat unfavorably; and 6% view them very unfavorably.

How about their opinion on some of the major sports leagues
that advertisers run their commercials with? For the NFL, 39% of parents surveyed
view the league very favorably; 29% view it somewhat favorably; 19% are
neutral; 9% view the NFL somewhat unfavorably; and 4% view the league very

For the NBA, 31% of parents view it very favorably; 26% view
it somewhat favorably; 24% are neutral; 11% see it as somewhat unfavorable; and
6% see it as very unfavorable.

The parents were also asked a hypothetical question about
advertisers running ads in NFL and NBA telecasts, namely: "The NBA and NFL have
television deals with the TV networks and have the ability to allow or not
allow ads they think are appropriate for their audiences. If the leagues called
on its TV partners to temporarily stop airing ads for violent movies and video
games during televised sporting events when kids are watching, what would your
opinion be?"

For the NFL, parents said if the league took that type of
position, 57% said they would deem it very favorable; 22% said somewhat
favorable; 12% were neutral; 5% would view it somewhat unfavorably; and 3%
would see it as very unfavorable.

For the NBA, parents said if the league took that type of
position, 55% would deem it very favorable; 23% somewhat favorable; 14%
neutral; 5% somewhat unfavorable; and 3% very unfavorable.

If the broadcast networks were asked to take a similar voluntary
position on violent ads when kids are watching, 54% of parents said they would
view it as very favorable; 23% somewhat favorable; 14% neutral; 5% somewhat
unfavorable; and 4% very unfavorable.

A majority of parents believe the media industry
has the power to help change the culture of violence in the country by not
exposing young audiences to violent advertising. Of those polled, 46% strongly
agree, assigning a rating of 10 on a 1-10 scale to that statement. Another 16%
of parents rated that statement a 9 on the scale. And 12% rated it an 8. Only
1% strongly disagreed with that statement.