More than half of parents let their kids play over 18s video games, according to the results of a new survey.
Childcare.co.uk surveyed more than 2000 parents in the UK, and found more than half let their children play video games for over 18s without supervision or knowledge of the game beforehand.
The findings won’t come as much of a surprise to those familiar with video games and the video game industry. While video games carry age ratings, they’re often ignored by parents.
When I worked at GAME in Barnsley in the early 2000s, I was berated by a father after I refused to sell Grand Theft Auto to his 10-year-old son. After pointing out the age rating of the game – and the fact I could have got into quite a lot of trouble for selling the game to his son – the father accused me of trying to tell him how to raise his kid.
It appears parents think of video games in a different way to movies, for example. According to the Childcare.co.uk survey, just 18 per cent of respondents said they would let 10-14-year-olds watch an 18+ movie.
86 per cent of respondents admitted they don’t follow age restrictions on video games, whereas 23 per cent said they didn’t follow age restrictions on films.
Childcare.co.uk’s survey found 43 per cent of parents have seen a negative change in their child’s behaviour since playing games aimed at adults, and almost a quarter said their kids now understand and use negative or offensive language since playing these games.
Digging into the detail of the survey, 72 per cent of respondents were mothers. All who responded were parents of children from the ages of five to 16, with 53 per cent boys and 47 per cent girls.
Video games and their impact on children is a hot topic, with battle royale phenomenon Fortnite sparking a number of negative headlines in the mainstream press.
34 per cent of those surveyed said their children spend four hours or more a day playing video games. I don’t think they’re doing their homework.
Childcare.co.uk founder Richard Conway said: “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. 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.”
Sounds like good advice!