Kids Need TV Supervision, Odyssey Study Claims


More than 70 percent of parents feel there is too much sex, violence and inappropriate language on the small screen, and nearly three out of five feel their children can't safely watch TV without supervision.

Those are among the key findings of a recent Yankelovich Partners study commissioned by Odyssey Network to explore the attitudes and viewing habits of cable and satellite subscribers, gauge interest in family programming and assess brand perception of the Hallmark Channel, the name the network will adopt in August.

Among the 1,101 cable and satellite subscribers who responded to the survey, 81 percent said there is too much violence on TV, while 73 percent found excessive foul language and 75 percent believed that too much sex is shown. Additionally, 76 percent of those surveyed said on-screen humor is too sexually explicit.

As such, 61 percent of parents maintain their kids can't safely watch TV without supervision, and two-thirds think the medium does a poor job of reinforcing what they teach their progeny.

Those situations are apparently conducive to engendering individual TV experiences. In homes with children 18 or younger, content compels 53 percent of respondents to watch boxes in separate rooms. In homes without kids under 18, 38 percent of respondents watch TV apart from other household members.

All told, 50 percent of adults ages 25 to 54 and 56 percent of those over 18 watch TV on their own.

Yet, watching TV with the family is a high priority among survey participants — 63 percent of parents indicate that it is extremely important to watch shows with their children, and 88 percent with kids under 18 at home would like to see more wholesome fare.

"We expected to hear that more people wanted family-friendly programming and that parents are concerned that there is too much sex and violence and inappropriate language on television," U.S. Hallmark Channel CEO Margaret Loesch said. "What surprised us was how many people are watching television in different rooms and that it was not a lifestyle thing, but rather content-driven.

"It also validates our mission that a large number of people are looking for content that can pull families together for co-viewing," she said.

As for the network side of the survey, 76 percent and 74 percent of respondents view Hallmark Hall of Fame
or Hallmark Entertainment events as "entertaining" and of "high quality." Two-thirds expressed interest in watching Hallmark Channel based on their perception of the brand, while 55 percent indicated they would consider switching their cable or satellite service to get the network.

The telephone survey, which used random-digit dialing, was conducted between Feb. 15 and 25; 1,101 U.S. cable and satellite subscribers were interviewed. The margin of error for total respondents was plus or minus 3.1 percent.