As gaming soars during lockdown, research shows only 1 in 3 parents check age ratings

With families being urged to stay safe at home, it’s no surprise that sales of both online and video games have soared.

And while it provides a fantastic opportunity for children to have downtime, get creative and have fun, we are urging parents to check the suitability of the games their child is playing.

Gaming top online activity for children

Our new research reveals that two thirds of children aged 11 (65%) say that ‘online gaming’ is their favourite online activity.

However, just a third of kids (33%) say their parents check the age-rating of the games they are playing.

It comes as data released last week by found that sales of games relating to global epidemics have increased by 200%.

Gaming can be a fantastic tool for families at this time however if risks aren’t addressed – children can be open to grooming through socially-connected games, cyberbullying and in extreme cases, gaming addiction.

Our new guide released today will help parents get to grips with gaming, it can be found here.

Internet Matters ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos said: “Gaming can be great for kids as it allows them to engage and interact with family and friends. It gives them a chance to have fun, get creative, build confidence and feel challenged.

“But it’s essential they are playing age-appropriate games because if they’re engaging in things they’re not emotionally ready for, it can have long-term effects on their wellbeing.

“Parents need to be on top of what games they’re playing and be clear of any potential risks – i.e. do they have a social media element, or can they talk to strangers?

“Observing age-ratings, setting clear boundaries and having regular conversations is key to preventing risks which range from unwanted contact to addiction.”

Internet Matters CEO Carolyn Bunting has urged parents, where they can, to find some time to game with their children, during lockdown.

She said: “We have long been an advocate for parents gaming with their children as we know that parents who regularly get involved with their children’s online activities are better placed to help them navigate any issues they may face.

“The lockdown period may provide an opportunity for parents to sit down with their children and help them get to grips with gaming and help them take advantage of the many opportunities it offers.

“Start playing age-appropriate games where you can as a family, this will allow you to feel more comfortable about gaming so that you can slowly give your child more freedom to play on their own. If your child is already a gamer – use the opportunity to have honest and open conversations about their gaming world.”

Resources document

Visit our #StaySafeStayHome advice hub for more tips on how to make the best use of tech.

Visit the Game Safe guide to empower young people to game safely online

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