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ESRB: Parental Ratings Awareness On The Rise

According to a new survey conducted on behalf of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), 90 percent of American parents whose children play video games are aware of the ESRB ratings, with 85 percent using them regularly when buying games for their
According to a new survey conducted on behalf of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), 90 percent of American parents of children who play video games are aware of the ESRB ratings, while 85 percent use them regularly when buying games for their families. The ESRB's non-legislative ratings have continued to be a subject of controversy over the last year, with Senator Sam Brownback reintroducing his Truth in Video Game Rating Act to the U.S. Senate in February. The Act, if passed, will call for study to determine the effectiveness of the ESRB, as well as the potential for a new “independent rating system... controlled by parties with no financial interest in the industry.” However, the ESRB notes that its latest figurers are higher than those measured in the same study in 2006, when awareness and use were at 83 percent and 74 percent respectively. The study was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates in early March, and surveyed over 500 parents of children age 3 to 17 that play video games. The study also revealed that an increasing number of parents are using the ratings to restrict their children from playing games rated M (Mature). A majority of those surveyed (60 percent) said they “never” allow their children to play M-rated computer and video games, while 34 percent said they “sometimes” do. The M (Mature) rating is assigned by the ESRB to indicate that a game may be suitable for ages 17 and older. The survey also found that 73 percent of respondents said that they checked the ESRB rating "every time" before renting or buying a game for their child, a 10 percent increase over last year's report. Other findings include that 90 percent of parents surveyed said that the ratings are "very" (55 percent) to "somewhat" (35 percent) helpful in their purchasing decisions for their children, while 69 percent noted that the ESRB ratings are the "most important" (17 percent) or "very important" (52 percent) consideration when selecting games. Another 22 percent stated that the ESRB ratings were only "somewhat important." Other than the ESRB ratings, parents included in the survey stated that video game packaging (31 percent), other parents (29 percent), and their children (21 percent) represent the top three other sources of information about games. 83 percent of these parents also commented that they would consider parental control settings to be "very" (53 percent) to "somewhat" (30 percent) helpful in controlling what games their children are allowed to play. "It's extremely encouraging that the vast majority of parents are involved and informed when it comes to choosing which games are appropriate for their families," said ESRB president Patricia Vance. "The ratings continue to be a very important, if not the most important tool to help parents make an informed decision, and it's clear that parents are using and relying on them in growing numbers."

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