This piece on Gamepolitics — the completely unpartisan website focused entirely on truth, justice and not at all becoming offended by anything I might ever type — reveals some not-so-shocking truths regarding our consoles and/or the inanity of the average American person.
According to a study by research group User Centric, the parental settings found in our consoles, televisions, cellular phones and digital video recorders are as difficult to use as the almost-cliche timing settings on the VCRs of the late-80s, only now we’re lacking Alf to crack wise about our ineptitude. Here’s a quote:
Failure rates were high: 31% (DVR), 36% (mobile phone), 42% (V-Chip), and 47% (game console). Across all four devices, parents and children had similar failure rates when setting up parental controls. Participants who reported prior experience fared no better than those who had no experience.
Several participants failed to set up parental controls because they were unaware that they had to perform an extra step to save and then activate their selection. Parental control interfaces failed to provide sufficient visual cues on whether a specific rating was successfully selected or automatically saved as the current setting.
Overall, User Centric found that participants’ lack of understanding about ratings compromised their ability to successfully set up parental controls and that parents may be more confident than they should be that the controls are properly set.
Obviously more needs to be done to create user-friendly systems of parental control for these new technologies if we’re going to be relying on them to keep the Jack Thompsons at bay, but personally, I’d like to see a study on how many children of those people studied can set up the parental ratings. Perhaps the issue isn’t that the mechanisms are too complex, but that adults just aren’t spending the necessary time learning the ins and outs of the new technology invading their homes.
What do you guys think? Is this a case of overly complex systems or of overly stupid, lazy citizens?