A survey carried out by a childcare specialist has found that an overwhelming majority of parents go against age restrictions on computer games to let their children play titles otherwise unavailable to them, despite refusing to do the same for age restricted films.
In a survey of 2,000 parents carried out by babysitter-finding service Childcare.co.uk, 86 percent of respondents admitted to allowing their children to play computer games which are rated higher than their age. This is despite ratings from the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) service carrying the same legal weight as film ratings from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which only 23 percent of respondents admitted to flouting.
'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,' says Richard Conway, founder of the site, of the survey's results. '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.'
The same survey found that 43 percent of parents reported a negative change in their children's behaviour since playing adult-rated games, with 22 percent reporting new or increased usage of negative or offensive language. Around 86 percent of respondents, however, claimed that they don't believe playing age restricted titles will have any long-term impact on their children's behaviour or outlook on life, though 62 percent reported they had tried to take the games away from their children only to give them back in the face of tantrums.
The survey's results roughly echo those of Ukie's similar survey from 2012, which found that a majority of parents do not follow age ratings on games and half would allow their child to play a game with an unsuitable age rating which was purchased as a present. Tellingly, though, only 20 percent of parents responding to the Ukie survey reported that they would play a game themselves to check its content before deeming it suitable for their child, a question which does not appear to have been asked by Childcare.co.uk's survey.