Survey: Americans Believe Video Games Cause Violence

Small survey, taken after Sandy Hook, skews results...

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It's a 'link' being violent. See? Geddit? Oh, lighten up.
It's a 'link' being violent. See? Geddit? Oh, lighten up.
Nearly three in five of 2,278 adult Americans who responded to a recent Harris Poll survey believe that video games have a violent effect in teens. That's the fact. GamesBeat, which originally reported on the findings, instead went a bit 'Daily Mail' and implied that 58 per cent of all adult Americans felt the same.

Opening its piece with, "many adults believe the country has a violent video game problem," GamesBeat reports that "nearly three in five adult Americans (58 percent) believe that video games contribute to violent behaviors in teenagers." Of course, anyone skimming the article would likely skip the minor detail that Harris Poll "interviewed 2,278 U.S. adults."

1,321 people (which is roughly 58 per cent of 2,278) in a population of 313,914,040 United States citizens doesn't really count for "many," in our book. Maybe it's just us, though.

Back to the good, clean statistics. 38 per cent of the 2,278 people polled replied that they knew nothing about the Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) game rating system, and 33 per cent of those respondents claimed that they let their kids play whatever games they like.

"While more than a third [of 2,278 people] donít understand the rating system, 66 percent of households with game-playing children [polled] use the ESRBís age guidelines to help make purchasing decisions," GamesBeat reports (clarifications ours).

"Only 14 percent of [2,278] Americans claimed to fully understand said guidelines while 18 percent [of those polled] said they understood a lot of it." The report also claims that nearly half (of the entire US population, apparently) aren't confident that the ESRB ratings are effective enough.

Bizarrely, GamesBeat notes, "Of course, that concern doesnít actually correlate with reality." Probably because 47 per cent of 2,278 isn't a particularly large number, relatively speaking.

What the survey does show, if anything else, is that there is still a pocket of consumers that are unaware of the ESRB's role in the games industry, or are dismissive of it. As small are the number is against the larger US population, education to parents and consumers alike should still be of critical importance to the industry.


DrkStr 26 Feb 2013 13:27
Actually for a population of 313,914,040 you can get a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of 2.1% with a survey size of 2,178.

That means you can be 95% sure that between 55.9% and 60.1% of all Americans think video games cause violence.

You can get a 99% confidence level and a 2.8% confidence level with a survey size of 2,123. i.e. you can be 99% confident that between 55.2% and 60.8% of all Americans would think games cause violence.

The sample size of 2,278 is higher than either of those figures, so it should be reasonable to conclude this survey represents American opinion fairly closely.

This is all dependant on the sample being representative of the total population of course. That means there should be the same mix of ethnicity, education, wealth, etc in the sample that there is in the total population.

So maybe not so far out after all?
Ergo 26 Feb 2013 14:52
@DrkStr And then you looked at the much larger polls conducted all campaign season long and realize that polls are garbage--only a pollster and a statistician that lives and dies by percentages could love them.

(Also: duh? Americans are told *every day* for months by pols that games are bad bad bad, and imagine that--a bunch of people believe they're bad.)
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DrkStr 26 Feb 2013 18:19
@Ergo I'm not saying they're right, I'm saying the sample size is plenty big enough to draw the conclusions that the report does without taking a mocking tone from journalists.
CyberJohn 27 Feb 2013 00:58
No. The sample size in too small to make that assumption. You need to know the exact question asked, the area it was taken and the relation to events such as the various massacres in the US. Love the stats by the way, as a a Doctor of physics at University of Leeds, England, I think you have just made stuff up. Where's your calculation of standard deviation for instance. What is a confidence interval? It is not a statistical term. Glad to unmask you as a bullshitter. If you want to talk math as the yanks call it I am waiting. Would be interested in why you made stuff up apart from trying to be clever. I am not interested in that motive.
CyberJohn 27 Feb 2013 01:28
and no, confidence interval is not a valid statistical index before you harp on. It is a parochial and convenient disconnection between cause and effect in data collection. You might as well point to extreme parts of a Gaussian distribution and say they were cogent to your argument.
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