NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Parents Seldom Utilize V-Chips

July 26, 2001

In 1996 Congress mandated that new television sets be equipped with devices called V-chips that would allow parents to block programs they considered inappropriate for their children. An estimated 50 million U.S. television sets now carry them.

But research by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has revealed that few parents are taking advantage of the chips.

  • About 40 percent of American families now have at least one television set equipped with a V-chip.
  • Half of those with V-chips are unaware they have that option.
  • Of those who are aware, only about one-third said they had used them.
  • The foundation concluded that only about 7 percent of parents nationwide were using the V-chip -- even though parents are apparently highly concerned about the amount of sex and violence on television.

The foundation blamed low utilization on a lack of public education. It faulted the major broadcast and cable networks, as well as local television stations, for not airing enough public service spots that would inform parents of the V-chip option.

Source: Jim Ruttenberg, "Few Parents Use the V-Chip, a Survey Shows," New York Times, July 25, 2001; based on "Parents and the V-Chip 2001: A Kaiser Family Foundation Survey," July 2001.


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