Unlike films, 86% of parents don’t follow the advice of age ratings
– survey of 2000 parents by childcare.co.uk.
Of the survey carried out by childcare.co.uk over half of adults said they would let their children, 10 to 14 years old, play games rated 18+. Whereas only a fifth would let their children, 10 to 14 years old, watch films rated 18+.
Why are games treated so differently to films? Is it because the graphics for many games are quite cartoon-like?
Just because a game has cute cartoon-like graphics does not mean it should be played by all ages. Fortnite by Epic Games, seen above, is a fine example: You see kids of all ages doing the dances and I know plenty of young kids playing it regularly. The thing is, it’s rated ‘Teen’ by ESRB…
PEGI and ESRB
There are two main regulatory bodies that issue age certificates for games. They both are self regulated by the software industry but, as of the date of this article, they are both recognised to be doing a satisfactory job of regulating the issue of games rating certificates.
PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is a European rating system. It not only has an age rating but also icons to show what kind of content the game involves.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board is an American based rating system.
You can access both the above sites and search for the game you want to know about.
Why you should use these ratings
These regulating bodies base their certificates on solid, scrutinised methods that take into account facets of a game that we would not think about as parents. Things we pass off as harmless might be affecting our children’s minds in ways that we might not know about…
Many parents I’ve talked to have said that their child’s mood changes after they’ve been playing, a state of being ‘in the zone’ maybe? Being interrupted mid game can be a bit of a jolt, in my experience, a jolt that I have never felt while watching a film I am engrossed by. Games do grasp the mind in ways I do not understand.
I believe we should trust the rating agencies to be better at judging the appropriateness of a game than us. Of course make your own judgement but do take on board their advice.
Revisiting Fortnite, mentioned previously, we can see that ESRB sees Fortnite as a violent game, hence its rating. When parents ask me about the rating I always remind them that a game that encourages players to shoot others in the head (for extra damage) shouldn’t really be played by young kids.
PEGI and ESRB do lack a rating with regards to addictiveness. Game companies are employing psychologists to actively make games as addictive as possible and so it should be feasible to assess how the game might trigger addictive behaviour…
This is probably not the case at the moment as game addiction is still only just gaining recognition as a problem.
In June 2018 ‘Gaming disorder’, was officially recognised by the WHO (World Health Organisation). As this subject is taken more seriously then hopefully we will see more action taken to safeguard our children.