Parents more frightened of GTA than porn

But violent ones are better than sexy ones.

Parents are more worried about exposing their children to videogames than to alcohol, violence and pornography.

That's according to recent polls on What They Play - "the parents' guide to videogames", which canvassed 3000 people on what they found most offensive.

"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," said John Davison, leader of What They Play.

Two polls conducted by the site found that violent content was more tolerable than sexual content within games. Bizarrely, the 3000 participants also felt children watching pornography or drinking beer was better than playing certain videogames.

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, F-word.

The second poll, which asked what parents were most worried about their 17-year-olds doing at sleepovers, revealed that 49 per cent were most apprehensive about marijuana being smoked, 19 per cent of Grand Theft Auto being whipped out, 16 per cent of pornography being watched, and 14 per cent of beer being consumed.

"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 gameplay. Of course, parents don't want their children drinking alcohol, but that's a more familiar risk."

Dr Tanya Byron was commissioned by the Prime Minister to look into the effects of violence in videogames on children. One of her largest areas of concern was parental knowledge of the medium, which she asked the games industry and retailers to address.

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