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Parents "fear" GTA more than porn

Poll reveals that parents worry more about their children playing violent videogames than watching pornography and drinking alchohol

Parents are more concerned about their children's exposure to videogames than they are about alcohol, violence and pornography, according to recent polls conducted by What They Play.

Two polls conducted by the site found that children drinking beer and watching pornography were less objectionable to parents than playing certain videogames. The 3000 participants in the polls also suggested that it was more acceptable to view violence than sexuality within games.

"These poll results demonstrate that parents are as apprehensive about their children's media diets as they are about traditional social issues such as alcohol, drugs, violence and sex," says John Davison, president of What They Like. "When it comes to videogames, parents should know that What They Play is a resource that helps demystify one of the most popular - and challenging - forms of entertainment their kids are into."

The results of the initial online poll showed that 37 per cent of the participants were most offended by a man and woman having sex, 27 per cent by two men kissing, 25 per cent by a graphically severed head and 9 per cent by multiple use of the F-word.

The second poll - querying parents on what they'd be most concerned about their 17-year-old child doing at a sleepover - revealed that 49 per cent of people were most apprehensive about their child smoking marijuana, 19 per cent playing the video game Grand Theft Auto, 16 per cent watching pornography and 14 per cent drinking beer.

"Although these findings seem surprising at first, they hint at fears parents have about videogames," said Cheryl K Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood.

"To some parents, videogames are full of unknowable dangers. While researching for Grand Theft Childhood, parents we spoke with in focus groups often bemoaned the fact that they didn't know how to use game controls - and felt unequipped to supervise or limit video game play. Of course, parents don't want their children drinking alcohol, but that's a more familiar risk."

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