Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for Entertainment

June 20, 2011 -

New research, based on three different surveys, finds that parents want a universal ratings system for all media formats. The research, which gathered the responses of 2,300 adults from three different surveys found that most parents were generally satisfied with ratings related to television, movies, video games, music, and handheld devices. Nevertheless, a majority of surveyed felt there should be some sort of universal rating system for all media, including web sites, music CDs, and games played on handheld devices.

Some parents also said that the differences in the ratings systems for different types of media were often inconsistent and confusing, though most complained about television ratings that didn't properly convey what kinds of content a given program contained.

Researchers say the opinions differed widely depending on whether participants identified themselves as frequent or infrequent churchgoers. Around 15 percent of infrequent churchgoers indicated they would always filter out "sexy commercials," and 6 percent found these commercials inappropriate for all ages. Around 39 percent of frequent churchgoers indicated they would filter out sexy commercials, and 21 percent found them inappropriate for all viewers.

"Our studies revealed that parents not only want changes to the ratings, but that they would support the creation of a universal system," the researchers write. "Given that we are well on the way to digital 'convergence,' where one can watch movies, television shows, or video games all on the same device, it seems that the time may be right to begin seriously considering taking this next step to improve media ratings."

The research is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

It should be noted that the study did not specifically address anything other than Television. Parents seemed to be perturbed with the way TV ratings are inconsistent. Perhaps the ratings system needs to be tweaked to be more accurate. Perhaps it's a failing of the TV shows that use them.

Source: WebMD

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Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

The more I look at ratings systems the more I am convinced that they are all a mistake.

Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

Because apparently having a list of things a game contains on the box is too complex...

Now I'm not saying that every rating system is perfect, but come on parents it's not that hard to tell if something is suitable for your kids.

Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

In the abstract, I can see the appeal of a universal content rating system--everyone only has to learn one system, and it could (in theory) be consistent across all forms of media.

When I consider applying the idea, however, it strikes me as...impractical, at best.

1) In order to provide sufficient detail to satisfy parental units, the system would have to be rather complex and unwieldy, because people have different standards for different media. A description of violence in a song is often perceived very differently from a graphic depiction of violence, for example. The actual "appropriate age" rating could remain fairly simple, but it would be even more arbitrary than in the current rating systems, and people would have to rely heavily on the fine-print reasons for the rating.

This is not an insurmountable problem, by any means, but it seems to somewhat undermine the advantages of consistency and simplicity of a single system.

2) A multi-industry ratings body would have to be formed to develop a consensus on proper ratings and apply them. The industries involved are often in direct competition with each other for entertainment dollars. I foresee extensive political jockeying and attempts to manipulate the system for the benefit of one media type or another, at the cost of fairness and validity in the ratings system itself.

3) The scope alluded to in the article is insane. You could probably overcome enough other hurdles to produce a system to cover games, movies, and music. After all, there are systems and rating bodies already in place for each, and they work reasonably well on their own. You could shoehorn them together somehow.

The real scope problem arises when you look at this bit: "web sites...and games played on handheld devices". Suddenly, we're not talking about the corporate media model the ratings bodies are designed to handle. We're talking about material that anyone can create and publish--personal blogs, games written by a lone programmer hacking around with a phone, photo sharing sites, and so forth. This is content being produced at an incredible pace, and which can change radically in a single day.

Who's going to review and rate it all? How relevant could the rating be by the time it's applied? You would have to rely on some sort of automated system--with which we've already seen problems in nanny software blacklists, and which is wildly impractical for images at present--or we'd have to rely on people to rate their own material as they publish it. So much for consistency and reliability.

Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

Won't happen.  Never will.  The argument of a universal ratings system always get brought up every so often, but it gets shot down pretty promptly and always for the same reasons: doing so would be clunky and unwieldy.  What's considered acceptable in one medium may not be considered acceptable in another.  And who decides the criteria?  Invevitably, you end up running into that brick wall that is the First Amendment.  That more than anything else is why such a concept will never fly in this country.

Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

That and the MPAA has a stranglehold on their system.  They won't relenquish that madness to anyone else and any other ratings boards would be imbeciles to let the MPAA take them over.

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Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

I'm guessing the reason is that the MPAA would probably abuse the rating system to neuter other mediums.

Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

A uni system would be nice, base levels on context and members are randomly picked every 2 years as so the ranrting levels can be updated or tweak so that classic country and modern rap are on the same level contextually if they sing about drugs,violence,womanizing and other adult things. THis dose not mean they should be for adults only it needs soemthign more than bad or light use of adult trems to be risen to the level where its 17+ only.


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Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

As long as it's not too complicated, like TV. Why they don't use movie ratings for TV is beyond me. No more than 6 like we use now. Movies use 5 (lans EC).

And most of all, they have to quit being more strict on games than movies.

Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

MPAA owns copyright to their rating system(if I remember correctly, the video game industry did ask the MPAA if they could use the movie rating system and the MPAA turned them down).

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Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

Plus, well, MPAA ratings are hard to find on the box.

Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

Kinda like the idea of a universal rating system. Provided the don't start basing laws on it that is.

Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

Alas, some a$$hole will try it.

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Re: Research: Parents Want a Universal Ratings System for ...

Nah, there isn't a soul dumb enough *CoughLelandYeeCough* to try such a thing. Especially if SCOTUS finds in favor of EMA.

Sorry... Been fighting something all week. >_>

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