ESRB Survey: Parental Awareness, Use & Satisfaction
Conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, ESRB commissions surveys to regularly assess parents' awareness and use of the ESRB rating system and the effectiveness with which it helps them to make informed game purchase decisions. The latest study, conducted in May and June of 2012, includes the following findings among parents with children that play video games:
- 85% of parents are aware of the ESRB rating system
- 70% regularly check a game's rating before making a purchase
- 67% are aware of content descriptors, three quarters (75%) of whom check them regularly
- 88% feel the ESRB rating system is either "very helpful" or "somewhat helpful" in choosing games for their children
- Four in ten (41%) never allow their children to play M-rated games; parents of children 13 and under are four times as likely as parents with children 14 and older to "never" allow M-rated games.
- 64% consider it equally important that a rating system provide information about Interactive Elements (like user interactions or the sharing of a user's location or personal information) as guidance about age-appropriateness and content.
Source: Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Awareness & Use [May/June 2012]
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
According to a survey of parents conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, parents said that among all entertainment rating systems (TV, movies, music and games), the ESRB ratings are the most useful, with 91% finding them "very useful" (58%) to "somewhat useful" (33%). - "Parents, Children & Media" [June 2007]
Federal Trade Commission
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducts a regular review of ESRB's activities and effectiveness and reports its findings to Congress. The FTC has also conducted research about the ESRB rating system. Among their most recent findings*:
- 89% of parents are involved in the purchase or rental of a video game for their child
- 87% of parents are aware of ESRB ratings
- 73% use ratings "all," "nearly all" or "most of the time" when buying games
- 87% report being "very" to "somewhat" satisfied with ESRB ratings
- 93% say ESRB ratings are "moderately" to "very" easy to understand
Source: Federal Trade Commission Report to Congress, "Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children," [April 2007]
FTC on the ESRB
"The [ESRB rating system] is a useful and important tool that parents increasingly use to help them make informed decisions about games for their children." - Report to Congress [April 2007]
"Of the three entertainment sectors [movies, music, and video games], the electronic game industry continues to have the strongest self-regulatory code..." and "...compliance with the ESRB code was high in all media." - Report to Congress [December 2009]
"The video game industry outpaces the movie and music industries in the three key areas that the Commission has been studying for the past decade: (1) restricting target-marketing of mature-rated products to children; (2) clearly and prominently disclosing rating information; and (3) restricting children’s access to mature-rated products at retail." - Report to Congress [December 2009]
"The video game industry continues to do an excellent job of clearly and prominently disclosing rating information in television, print, and Internet advertising and on product packaging..." - Report to Congress [December 2009]
"The Commission commends the ESRB for its new online ratings [sic] summaries...this tool should enhance parental understanding of the ratings and the ratings process." - Report to Congress [December 2009]
FTC Mystery Shops
The FTC also periodically conducts nationwide undercover audits, or "mystery shops," of movie theaters and DVD, music, and video game retailers. Their most recent survey found that 87% of individuals under the age of 17 were turned away when trying to purchase or rent Mature-rated games.
* FTC's most recent Report to Congress issued in December 2009 did not repeat the parent survey conducted in April 2007.