Violent Video Games Easy For Kids To Buy

    December 5, 2007

Nearly all stores (94%) say they have policies in place to prevent children under 17 from purchasing M-rated (mature) video games, but close to 50 percent of the time secret shoppers were able to buy such games according to the National Institute on Media and the Family.

Kids as young as 12 were able to buy M-rated games almost half the time and 15-year-olds were able to purchase M-rated games close to two-thirds of the time. The most popular M-rated games minors were able to purchase were, Grand Theft Auto, Halo 2, and Scarface.

The study found that younger sales clerks were more likely to allow minors to purchase inappropriate games, while older clerks were more compliant with existing store policies. Nine out of 10 sales clerks say they understand the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system, only 60 percent of stores train employees on how to enforce the rating on the game’s box.

More than half of parents (54%) claim to use the ratings. However 72 percent of parents know little or nothing about the ratings system overall and many could not identify the meanings of specific ratings such as AO (Adults Only) and EC (Early Childhood).

"In conclusion, this year’s ratings enforcement survey is discouraging. After progress in previous years, the overall compliance rate slipped badly this year," the institute said in its report.

"Although certain factors, such as clerk age and big box retailer compliance, seem to account for some of this backtracking, it is unclear why, after years of pressure and claims from corporate representatives that policies are in place, retailers are still not adequately enforcing the ratings."