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Byron: Generational divide is biggest problem in ratings debate

Parents find current ratings system "extremely confusing" and retailers want more help in educating adults, says author

Tanya Byron, author of the government's review into the harmful effects of videogames and internet use on children, has said that the biggest issue the industry faces is the education of parents who have less understanding of interactive media than their children.

The Byron Review, released today, recommends that a single age rating system be adopted for videogame packaging, the statutory requirement for ratings be dropped to 12 and a set of clear and consistent guidelines are adopted for advertising games.

"The key finding is that we have this huge digital generational divide at the moment where children are enjoying benefits and opportunities both online and in videogames but parents are really genuinely confused in terms of what videogames are and how their kids are playing them, what the content really means and what should they be allowing their kids to play and not play," she said.

"For me it's about how can government really empower parents, society and teachers who grapple with these issues in schools to really support children to think about risks both online and in videogames where most adults are coming from the position of knowing less than the children who are using these technologies."

Speaking to BBC Breakfast News - which showed in-game footage of people being set alight and shot in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - Byron said the industry is being responsible by classifying products, but parents are confused by the two sets of ratings currently being used by PEGI and the BBFC.

"We do have good regulations for videogames, currently they're classified by a European system that was set up by the videogame industry itself - an industry that I find to be a responsible in terms of games that are being produced. They produce excellent games for children and they also produce games for adults that should not be played by children. And at the top end we have the BBFC classifying games," she said.

"But what we get at the moment on games being sold in this country are two sets of symbols which parents tell me they find extremely confusing and retailers would like to be supported more to be able to say to parents that really you shouldn't be buying this game for your child.

"In the same way (parents) don't let their children watch an 18-rated film they shouldn't let their children play an 18-rated game because they are not for children, they are for adults," she added.

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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