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86% of UK parents don't follow age restrictions on video games

Over half allow children to play 18+ games without supervision; far fewer similarly ignore film age restrictions

Parents concerned about the kind of content children are exposed to in video games may need to take a closer look at the ratings on those games. According to a recent survey, over half of UK parents allow their young children to play games rated 18+ without supervision, and even more don't follow age restrictions in general.

This comes from a survey of over 2,000 UK parents conducted by Childcare.co.uk. The survey found that 86% of those surveyed didn't follow video game age restrictions, while over half had no knowledge beforehand of an 18+ game their child was playing.

These numbers are especially surprising when compared to similar questions about film. A far smaller number of parents, 18%, said they would allow a 10-14 year-old to watch an 18+ movie, while only 23% said they ignored age restrictions on films in general.

As a result, 43% saw negative changes in their child's behavior after playing a game aimed at adults, and 22% noticed their children using negative or offensive language after playing such a game.

86% did not believe games would impact their child's behavior or general outlooks, but in contrast, 48% worried their child was addicted to video games. 62% said they had tried to take away a game from a child, then caved due to a tantrum and returned the game.

These numbers follow a similar pattern of parental ignorance of children's interactions with video games shown through various stories this week, including a troubling incident where a young girl's Roblox character was assauletd in-game and the subsequent response.

"It's difficult in this day and age to govern what your child is exposed to, because if your 10-year-old has friends who are playing Fortnite, which is rated 12, you want them to be included in the fun," said Childcare.co.uk founder Richard Conway. "However, it's always worth looking into the game to see if it's suitable rather than leaving them to their own devices.

"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. It's important to remember how impressionable children are; if they see behaviour or language in a video game or movie, they may mimic it."

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Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.