From Fortnite to Call of Duty: How to tell if a game is right for your child
The last computer game I played was Nibbles on our family’s IBM 286.
So when I found out while researching this story that sex on park bench and violent beheadings were all part of today’s gaming world, it became clear that I had some catching up to do.
In 2017, 80% of young people played online games. ESafety research shows that although concerned about this, parents and guardians do not always know how to manage their child’s play.
ABC’s Good Game explores the world of leaderboards for their new parenting series, Help! My child is a player. It’s about offering advice to adults like me stuck in the country of DOS and helping us get up to speed.
Why paying attention to game classifications matters
Tony Fitzgerald is Virtual Services Manager at Kids Helpline and a father of two teenage children.
He says that when a child is exposed to inappropriate content in games, especially on a regular basis, it can be detrimental to their well-being.
“A lot of the contact we receive with Kids Helpline and Parent Line from parents concerned about their children’s play will be related to exposure to inappropriate content.
But it’s not just things like violence and sex that parents need to worry about. It is also the interaction with other players, especially since online games are becoming more and more common.
Regardless of the classification of the game a child is playing, whether it is a multiplayer or chat room game, it may be exposed to potentially dangerous adults.
“For example, some games or applications such as Discord allow children to chat with others over the Internet while playing a game. ESecurity website has resources for parents to help them manage gambling risks for their children. “
How rankings work
Margaret Anderson is the Director of the Classifications Committee. She knows her stuff.
“Games are really interesting because you don’t just have that more passive experience that you can have with a movie, it’s more interactive,” she says.
“You are very often responsible for making choices in terms of how this game goes, where it goes.”
Last year, the board ranked roughly 450 games that you could buy from a retailer.
“We require the person applying to have the game rated to show us the most impactful parts of the game in relation to six classifiable elements: themes, violence, foul language, sex, drug use and nudity. “
Because not all games are sold in a box on the store shelves – we also have digital games and mobile games – not all of them can be ranked by the board.
Fortunately there is the International Coalition of Age Groups, a system that provides game makers with a rating after answering a full set of questions.
But does this game seem OK to me?
Ideally, you should research, watch, and play (if possible) a game yourself before deciding if it is right for your child.
But just because you think an MA15 + game is right for your 13-year-old doesn’t mean it is.
“The ratings are there for a very good reason… there can be some really disturbing content in some of these more mature games,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
“We don’t want to standardize these kinds of experiences for children.”
And it can go the other way too. A G-rated game might not match your family’s values.
“There will be families who have certain values which mean that even games that might generally be acceptable may not be acceptable to them.”
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How to monitor what your children are playing
The Department of Communications and the Arts recommends supplementing classification information using a range of other strategies such as:
- Read game reviews on the internet
- Talking to other parents
- Have their children play in a common room where parents can watch them.
Mr. Fitzgerald recommends adopting parental control, and get involved with children and their games.
“Take an active interest rather than a passive interest,” he says.
“Being involved provides the opportunity for conversation and discussion and it’s always healthy when you’re exposed to some of this content. “
If your child does to see or experience something inappropriate, maybe playing a game at a friend’s house, for example, take the opportunity to discuss it, says Mr. Fitzgerald.
“The most important thing is not to end the conversation. Take the opportunity to talk about what they have been exposed to and explain why it was really inappropriate, why it does not reflect family values. and potentially society. “
You can consult Help from the new iview series from Good Game! My child is a player.