FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Americans Worry About What Their Kids Watch... And Not Just Sex and Violence

A new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds that, although Americans are worried about indecency in the media, they also have other concerns.

For the most part, the survey broke down along predictable age, religious and political demographics (for instance, Democrats object to violence; Republicans object to sex). Although the survey respondents expressed concern over harmful content, large numbers also worried about excessive government restrictions on the media. The respondents overwhelmingly believed that parents should be the primary gatekeepers of what kids see and hear, and that audiences should "vote with their channel changers" to reject offensive entertainment. Respondents also expressed a high level of confidence in the content rating systems used for movies, television, and video games, as well as music advisory labels.

Just as interesting, the respondents didn't limit their concerns to sexual or violent content. Respondents strongly opposed media that depicted illegal drug use, as well as reality shows that humiliate the participants. In fact, 17% said that reality TV has made television worse over the past few years. Entertainment depicting gay characters and themes revealed a generation gap; 27% of those in the 18-49 age bracket objected to gay-oriented TV, whereas 42% of those in the 50+ bracket did.