A hot potato: If you’ve ever tried the multiplayer element of a Call of Duty game or GTA V, there’s a good chance that someone who sounds like a 12-year-old has questioned your mother’s virtue. But these titles and many like them are rated M for Mature, so how are they getting into the hands of minors? The answer is, of course, via the parents—the vast majority of whom don’t pay attention to games’ age ratings.
The unsurprising revelations come from Childcare.co.uk, an online social networking platform for parents, childcare providers and private tutors. It surveyed over 2000 parents in the UK who had children aged between five and 16. It was found that “more than half” let their kids play games meant for those aged 18 and over—all without any supervision and without having played the games themselves.
Another takeaway from the survey is that a massive 86 percent of parents simply don’t follow age restrictions for video games. But while these figures suggest most aren’t concerned by what their children play, it’s a different story when it comes to what they watch. Just 23 percent said they don’t pay attention to age ratings for movies, and only 18 percent would let their 10 to 14-year old watch an 18-rated movie.
“What’s interesting is that the majority of parents follow film age ratings, but when it comes to video games they maybe aren’t as strict,” said Childcare founder Richard Conway. “It’s important to remember how impressionable children are; if they see behavior or language in a video game or movie, they may mimic it.”
Despite allowing their kids to play these games, 43 percent of participants admitted that their child’s behavior changed after spending time with these mature titles. 62 percent said the issues apparently caused by the games justified returning them to the seller, but many were unable to do so because of their children’s objections.
Following the World Health Organization’s classification of ‘Gaming Disorder’ as a mental condition, and the story of the nine-year-old girl placed into rehab because she couldn’t stop playing Fortnite, addiction to video games has once again fallen under the spotlight. It’s something 48 percent of participants think their children might be experiencing.
It’s interesting to see that more parents are concerned about their children watching an 18-rated movie than playing a mature video game, especially as the latter gets so much negative publicity for allegedly causing mass shootings, addiction, etc. What’s your opinion on the matter? Should parents be strict with their kids when it comes to age-appropriate games, or is it unfair to stop them enjoying something many of their friends will undoubtedly be playing?