Samantha Ebelthite, Head of Global Commercial Markets Intelligence at Electronic Arts provides parents with tools and information to help kids play smart.
As a parent myself, I understand the responsibility that comes with my family having access to digital entertainment, including video games.
Over the past year especially, we have all looked to the online world for enjoyment, relaxation and social connection, which has otherwise been far too limited. The same is true for our children, who have even more ways to stay connected with friends.
We know that letting your child enjoy those opportunities and play with their friends online is important. But giving them that freedom, while also feeling you are in control, can be a difficult balance to get right. There are lots of tools available to help ensure play is always positive, but they can seem technical and time-consuming.
In fact, parental control tools are available for all gaming consoles, but according to a recent Internet Matters survey, only 37% of parents use them and of those who don’t, nearly six in ten (58%) are either unaware of parental control tools, don’t know how to set them up or think that it’s too difficult. That’s why we’ve partnered with Internet Matters, who have lots of great resources to help. Together, we’re going to provide more simple advice, helpful suggestions, and step-by-step guides to help you ensure your children play responsibly and have a positive video gaming experience.
We believe that play should always be fun, for all members of the family. With that in mind, at EA we design all our games to offer choices for all our players. Every parent and carer has their own rules on how much time their kids should spend playing video games, whether they’re happy for them to play online, enable chat, or make purchases in-game. All of these decisions are a choice – and the controls exist to ensure that these choices are upheld.
Those controls also let you manage the type of content your children can access. That includes whether they can spend while playing or not. If you do allow spending, you can also manage how much they can spend, as well as how much time they can play for.
EA’s Origin platform for PC games, which is the only platform owned by EA, also includes dedicated Child and Teen accounts. Child Accounts are for players under 13 and have no access to online features, including spend within the game. Teen Accounts are for players between 13-18, with controls that don’t allow spending unless the teen’s account is connected to a parent account and approval is given.
For FIFA fans, we recently introduced an in-game tool called FIFA Playtime, which helps all players monitor and track how much time they’re spending in-game as well as how many FIFA Points they’re spending. It also lets players set their own limits on things like matches played and FIFA Points spent, to help them understand more about their own playing behaviour. This could be a great way to help your child learn to manage their own time spent playing, as they get older and you prepare them for the digital world. ‘To learn all about FIFA Playtime visit our website here.
As parents, it is important that we understand our children’s interests and engage in positive discussions with them about their hobbies. It is equally important that we highlight concerns that we may have and work together to support them in the process.
As part of my role, I am proud to see such a continued focus by EA to empower our UK players and parents to make informed choices and manage the way they play our games. This is both through raising awareness of existing console parental controls and through developing new in-game tools to manage how our players choose to play, such as FIFA Playtime.
Parental controls, coupled with an ongoing and open discussion within the family about healthy playtime, age-appropriate games and online behaviour, can help to ensure that kids always have a positive experience whilst enjoying game time within the family, and with friends.
We hope that our step-by-step guides are informative and useful. You can also find out more by visiting the gaming advice hub and, we have even more exciting initiatives to announce later in the year, so stay tuned!
See articles and resources to help children stay safe online.