July 30th, 2012
The Bailey Review highlighted parents’ wish to have easy access to information about how the commercial world interacts with their children and easy ways to complain when they see something they don’t like.
Video games can cause concern and many parents want guidance about suitability of game content.
To-day the rating system for video games in the UK has become both simpler and more stringent.
Two points to note:
- PEGI (Pan European Game Information) www.pegi.info is now the sole age rating system
used in the UK for video games.
- It is illegal for a retailer to sell a video game to a child below the age stated on the game.
This makes things simpler and more reassuring for parents and is really good news.
The PEGI site is worth a visit as it has good information about the rating system and how it is administered (by VSR – Video Standards Council http://www.videostandards.org.uk) and also links to good independent sites such as CEOP https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ It offers parents the opportunity to give positive feedback and also to complain.
Parents can also get information about how all children’s media are regulated by going to Parentport which was set up in response to the Bailey Review www.parentport.org.uk. BUT Parent port need to update the site as it doesn’t include the new information about video games yet!
ukie (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) is also promoting the news about PEGI -which is great.
Parents should, however, perhaps take their “askaboutgames” site www.askaboutgames.com and accompanying “Control.Collaborate.Create” advertising campaign with a small pinch of salt. ukie is the trade association for the interactive games industry and so, of course, exists to promote its members interests – ie sell more video games. So it’s not surprising that the information is rather biased with sweeping claims made about the benefits of video games for families with no evidence to back them up.
The CEO states in her press release that the site is there to “encourage people to have honest and open conversations about games” yet there don’t seem to be any real conversations going on with real parents nor any signposting to where parents can feedback or complain about games or the regulatory system. It’s all positive spin. And of course it’s hard to see how it can be anything else given the nature of the organisation.
But I have two questions about government putting the onus on industry to “educate” parents.
- Shouldn’t there be some requirement on a site like “askaboutgames” to state very clearly that the information is provided by a trade organisation not a neutral party?
- Shouldn’t there be some controls on the marketing activity on trade association sites?
There is a competition run on this site where 4-15 year olds are encouraged to give out personal information (name, parent’s e-mail) in order to vie to become national Ambassadors. At a time when the advertising industry has pledged not to use children under 16 as Brand Ambassadors this seems to be out of line with current industry thinking on responsible marketing. Nothing wrong with encouraging family creativity – but state your interests and collect the information from the parents not the 4 year olds!
And in Olympic week, wouldn’t families be better off taking their kids outside into the fresh air to play some sport … Despite what it says on the site, video games are a lot more sedentary than playing football in the park.
July 3rd, 2012
Have you seen Natural Childhood written for the National Trust by leading nature writer Stephen Moss?
It presents evidence that our children are displaying “Natural Deficit Disorder” and calls for us all to try to reverse this.
In a blog for the National Trust published to-day I argue that one driver of this phenomenon is commercialism.
Brands need to make money and need to deliver a uniform, risk-free experience.
The charm, joy and value of the natural world stands as a polar opposite being free of charge to experience whilst also being constantly changing and unpredictable.
What do you think?