Why we are encouraging the set up of parental controls this festive season

Samantha Ebelthite from Electronic Arts explains the importance of setting parental controls before the gaming starts this festive season with the new campaign featuring comedian Katherine Ryan.

As many of us start to wind down for the holidays, parents are gearing up for one of the most fraught, fun and family focused times of the year. We want to ensure now more than ever that all our players, both old and new, have a positive playing experience with us. It’s what we do.

As much as we love being together, tensions can run high in any household and we want to ensure that video gaming is as stress free as possible. That’s why we encourage parents and guardians to set up parental controls, available on each of the major consoles, before gifting it on. We also want parents and guardians to know that on our own PC Platform, Origin, they can limit how much time their child spends playing video games and whether they can spend in-game. In fact, our platform has a default zero spending limit on all under 18 accounts. However, if you want your child to be able to spend in-game, you can; you just have to opt-in and change the settings, as we believe in giving both our players and parents and guardians the choice around how they want to manage play.

These tools and controls are designed to help parents and guardians ensure their children are playing responsibly – and it’s great to see that the majority (86%) of parents surveyed considering buying a console this festive season are already aware of parental controls, according to new research from Internet Matters. Despite high awareness, the research showed that just half of parents plan to set up parental controls before gifting the console to their child. Many parents and guardians don’t realise that setting up parental controls after video gaming has begun can become complicated and gameplay can be lost (and no one wants to have that conversation with their child, I’m sure!). To avoid this, we are working with Internet Matters and comedian Katherine Ryan this festive season to raise awareness of parental controls, when you should set them up and how to do it.

Why you should set parental controls up before gifting

I know that selecting and gifting a console can feel daunting in itself without adding the seemingly complex job of setting up parental controls. What I would say is setting up parental controls before gifting is really important and can save you from more difficult conversations further down the line. Not only is it easier than after video gameplay has begun, but it also allows you to be confident that the appropriate boundaries have been set from the very beginning of your child’s video gaming journey.

Despite a strong awareness of parental controls, Internet Matters’ research has found that over half (55%) of parents who had gifted a console hadn’t set up parental controls beforehand, with 23% not seeing the value of using the controls, and 32% having forgotten or not knowing what they do. We want to address these barriers head on through our new campaign with the extremely relatable Katherine Ryan by educating parents and guardians around the importance of activating parental controls before video gaming begins.

Parental controls: the benefits to setting them up and how

As a parent, I know we are always trying to do our best for our children and when it comes to video gaming, it’s no different! From deciding how much time children spend playing video games and how they can connect and interact with others online, to whether they can make in-game purchases and how much they can spend, we are all trying to work out how to navigate this. Parental controls allow you to make appropriate choices for your family’s playing experience so that you can be confident that your children are video gaming responsibly.

Our research reflected that for those parents surveyed who had set up parental controls, over 80% reported restricting communication with strangers as the most important benefit of using the controls, followed by setting spending limits (78%) and age filtering video games (49%). With that said, we believe that parental controls are best paired with an open discussion with children around their video game playing. By keeping an open dialogue around what they’re playing, who they’re playing with and how much time they’re spending on their console, parents can be better informed of their children’s playing habits.

If you’re not sure how to set them up, don’t worry. You can visit the Internet Matters video gaming hub where you can find step-by-step guides for all available consoles. It’s easy and you only need to do it once.

Driving meaningful change takes time and commitment

This continues the work of our previous Play Together/Play Smart campaign with Internet Matters, which launched earlier this summer. It encouraged parents and carers to get closer to their children’s video gaming habits to ensure children have a positive experience whilst enjoying video game time with both their family and friends. Our summer campaign highlighted that just 37% of parents whose children play video games use parental controls. That’s why we hope to reach as many parents and guardians as possible this festive season with our new campaign.

Ensuring we’re having an impact is crucial and I am proud to see such a continued focus by EA to empower our parents and guardians to make informed choices and manage the way they play our video games. We want to drive meaningful change, and I’m excited to see how many parents we reach and encourage to set up parental controls this festive season. Believe me, a little extra time now can save an awful lot in the future!

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