WASHINGTON DC: Increasing numbers of online ads are encouraging young people to buy violent movies and video games, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC's report on the marketing of violence to teenagers claims movie companies have increased their advertising of R-rated films on websites with large numbers of young users. The growth of social networking sites such as MySpace was also cited as having an impact.

The FTC found that most film studios rarely put a film's full rating on its MySpace page, despite the fact that figures from Nielsen//NetRatings show that 40% of page views on the site are made by under-16s (though it should be noted that comScore finds this figure to be around 20%).

The industry did fare slightly better on TV, where it has a voluntary agreement not to advertise during programs with audiences containing over 35% of young viewers.

A spot check of TV ads found only five films breaking these guidelines, three of which were produced by NBC Universal.

Computer games manufacturers were also named as advertising on inappropriate websites, such as that for the Cartoon Network, which broke their code of not marketing games intended for adults on sites where more than 45% of visitors are 16 or younger.

The report suggested that film, video game and music producers should reassess their voluntary systems, and consider banning advertisements for R-rated products altogether.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff