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Microsoft launches new child safety tools

77 per cent of parents aware of age ratings, claims new survey

Microsoft has announced a major update to the Play Smart, Play Safe website, in an attempt to provide parents with more practical advice on children's' use of videogames.

Now in its third year, the Play Smart, Play Safe campaign attempts to explain aspects of the games industry such as age rating and parental controls, while providing answers to frequently asked questions from parents.

The website includes content from "family ambassadors" - real families blogging their gaming experiences and offering advice to others. There is also general advice and explanation of PEGI ratings, hints for using parent controls, "tips for teens", discussion forums with independent experts, and interactive quizzes such as Do You Know Your Gamer?

A new survey by the site shows that a majority of 77 per cent of UK parents are familiar with videogame ratings but only 25 per cent directly set parental controls on consoles and computers.

When asked what additional functions they would like to see in games one-in-five parents suggested the ability to "make enquiries and access additional information about content their children are accessing".

A total of 41 per cent requested the ability to ban individuals or service providers from contacting their children, 31 per cent wanted more advanced functions to limit gameplay time, and 26 per cent wanted to be able to limit what content children bought online. 31 per cent asked for the ability to control and monitor TV and film content through a console.

"I commend the Play Smart, Play Safe website to anyone seeking advice on videogame activities," Microsoft's Neil Thompson.

"Whilst it's pleasing to see that such a large number of parents in the UK are familiar with videogame ratings, there remains a striking gap between knowledge and action. So Microsoft's hope is that the Play Safe, Play Smart website will continue to be an important information hub for parents seeking clear, up-to-the-minute advice on safer gaming issues."

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