Byron, Twist: safe gaming starts with parents
New, legally enforceable ratings are good, but adults must take responsibility
Professor Tanya Byron and UKIE CEO Jo Twist have both gone on record to reiterate once more that it is parents who must bear the brunt of responsibility for their children playing age-appropriate games.
Speaking to the Metro, Twist and the author of the Byron Report were keen to laud the importance of having a pan-European ratings system which is enforceable by law, but also highlighted the need for parents to involve themselves closely with their children's gaming habits.
"When I did the review in 2008 I didn't see a cynical industry that was there to create games just to exploit and make money," said Byron. "The industry has always been very clear with me, in a very genuine way, that adult content is created for adults - it's not created for kids.
"And actually what people get hot under the collar about are the 5 per cent of games that are talked about endlessly and not the 95 per cent of games that are out there, that are amazing for children from an educational point of view and also for families. Families used to play board games together, but I really strongly want to encourage parents to game with their kids. I game with my kids and it's a really fun thing to do.
"This has never been about putting the blame on the gaming industry. It's actually, I think, to have a very simple, streamlined system which the games industry is working really clearly with to make happen and being really responsible about letting people understand the content they're making and who it's for. But the gaming industry is full supporting and enabling parents to get access to information wherever they can about these issues so fundamentally then it is all about the parents.
"And I completely agree with you: we cannot subcontract responsibility for how children play games to the industry, but I think now the industry has got a much clearer system what we see is an industry that's being absolutely transparent about what they're producing and how parents should be thinking about it when their kids are playing and now its fundamentally about educating and empowering parents because that's where the regulation really lies when it comes to children and gaming."
Twist was also on hand to illustrate the fact that games should be treated in the same way as any other potentially inappropriate media, by monitoring habits and participating in the consumption, as well as by utilising the existing methods of parental control on devices.
"There are lots of parental controls on all the games consoles, so again if you want to protect your children from the kind of content that might not be suitable for them at a certain age than go to askaboutgames.com, find out how to use the parental controls," said Twist, referring to the newly launched parental advisory site.
"This is a real collective responsibility and it stretches across all forms of media and content, like any other sophisticated form of entertainment games are no different to films in that sense. So really, get involved in what your kids are doing, play the game yourself and understand what they're doing."
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