Today we’ve launched our new advice hub to encouraging mums and dads to take up online gaming to help them understand the benefits and risks for their children.
Working together with our partners Three and Supercell and our gaming expert Andy Robertson we’ve created a comprehensive gaming hub for parents. The hub is full of resources for parents with children who game.
Supercell supported the creation of guides to mobile gaming and translated them in several different languages to help families across the globe.
The hub also includes a guide on how to select games the whole family can play together – and take a pledge to start playing themselves.
Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters, said: “We know that parents who regularly get involved with their children’s activities online are better placed to lead them through some of the issues they may face.
“We’re encouraging parents to do something that may well go against their nature and have a go – get involved. With an overwhelming majority of children playing online games now, it has become part and parcel of growing up in the digital age.”
Our report, Parenting Generation Game sponsored by Three, reveals the ‘gaming knowledge gap’ between parents and kids. More than four in 10 (42%) of parents admit they have never played an online game themselves. Mums, in particular, feel out of depth when it comes to gaming, do not always understand their child’s games – and find it hard to work out the appeal. Only 39% of mums agree that gaming is a way to spend quality time together, compared to 49% of dads.
With 81% of children regularly playing games over the internet, 55% of parents worry strangers will contact their child through the platforms, and a third (38%) are unsure who their child is playing with online.
As well as the expected concerns around gameplay with strangers, half (50%) of parents worry their child will become addicted to games and an equal amount are concerned about their child’s personal data being collected and exposure to excessive violence. Yet 32% of parents are ‘comfortable’ with their child playing 18 rated games, such as Grand Theft Auto, with some as young as five years old. Of those children who game, 37% play Minecraft, 29% play Fortnite, 24% on Candy Crush and 23% on Fifa. Interest in gaming also drives additional screen-based activity, with 29% of parents saying their children record and broadcast their gameplay on streaming services.
Sian Laffin, head of retail discovery and innovation at Three, which sponsored the Parenting Generation Game report, said: “We know online gaming can be a daunting world for some parents. We are using this research to update our online safety sessions and materials, as well as upskilling staff in all of our stores to answer questions about screen time, boundaries and most importantly, how to make sure children keep having fun online. Helping parents better understand gaming will make the internet a safer place for everyone.”
Despite parents’ concerns, most see the benefits of playing online games. More than six out of 10 (62%) of parents agree playing video games helps to improve their child’s problem-solving skills and 53% believe gaming helps to improve their child’s focus and concentration.
A third (33%) agree it helps with their academic progress and 48% are “happy for my child to have a career in gaming”. 64% says it lets their child let off steam.
Jessica Hollmeier, Supercell’s Anti-Fraud and User Safety Lead, said: “Like with many other hobbies, children can get very passionate about gaming and we encourage parents across the globe to engage with that passion. We are excited that with this partnership we will address parents’ need for resources that help them ensure their children consume games in a healthy, fun and responsible way.”
We’d like to encourage as many mums and dads to try out online gaming this summer by taking the pledge on social media. Parents can share their tips, game choices and experience by using the hashtag #Pledge2Game.
Internet Matters’ gaming expert Andy Robertson “With the right guidance you can find games you’ll be keen to play and share with your children. By getting involved, you can help capitalise on the benefits, celebrate their online gaming successes and even make recommendations about what games they could play next.”
Adele Jennings, a mum of a 15-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son, regularly games with her children and finds that it opens up conversations about staying safe online and good behaviour on the internet.
She said: “We play everything from Fortnite to Minecraft together – it’s great fun but also enables tricky conversations about contact with strangers and privacy. I find they also have more respect for the time spent offline too – and so it is easier to set boundaries.”
See more resources and articles to support children online: