USCCB survey shows parents concerned about youth access to unwholesome media

04 15 2010 Kids TV2

A survey of parents sponsored by the U.S. bishops find they are deeply concerned about content in media and want help from the media industry and government to control children’s access to it.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) study, “Parents’ Hopes & Concerns About the Impact of Media on their Children,” was commissioned in response to a notice of inquiry by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Over 80 percent of parents say they want to be able to control access to content that depicts violence, sex, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse and profane language, the USCCB reports. Illegal drug use and alcohol abuse are special concerns, though they are not considered by many ratings and parental control system.

According to the survey, parents are more concerned about inappropriate content on television and the Internet than they are about video games, cell phones or music. Over 90 percent say their family has rules about what media their children can use and watch. More than half say they use parental controls for television, the Internet and video games.

Most respondents said that better understanding of parental controls, ability to block inappropriate ads, and greater availability of pre-set parental controls would increase their use of parental controls.

About 75 percent of parents said makers of media products should do more to help protect children from inappropriate content, while 58 percent said the government should also do more.

The survey results suggest that more parents are using the V-Chip ratings blocking technology than was previously thought.

The USCCB study recommends expansion of media content ratings to include illegal drug use, alcohol abuse and smoking. It also suggests not overlooking the impact of television content by placing greater emphasis on media such as the internet and social networking.

The bishops' conference advised that policymakers and broadcasters develop resources to empower parents and other television viewers to block unwanted television ads.

The USCCB also said it supports the continued use of the V-Chip and initiatives to make its use more widespread and parent-friendly. It also endorsed a “comprehensive approach” involving parental responsibility and greater government and industry involvement.

“Our nation's transition to digital television offers an excellent opportunity to provide children with additional protection,” said Bishop Gabino Zavala, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Communications. 

“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is grateful to the FCC for its efforts to empower parents and protect children in an evolving digital landscape. We encourage the Commission to act on parents’ concerns revealed in this USCCB study.”

The survey, conducted Feb. 16-20 by the Virginia-based Issues and Answers firm, consisted of a random digit dial telephone survey of 500 parents of children ages 2-14. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

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