Over half of parents allow their children to play 18+ rated games without supervision or knowledge about the game, according to a recent survey (opens in new tab) conducted by Childcare.co.uk.
Sampling over 2000 parents from across the UK, the survey reveals the stark difference in parental perceptions of games compared to other media. 86% of parents admitted they do not pay attention to age restrictions on games, compared to just 23% who stated they don’t follow similar guidelines for films. Indeed, just eighteen percent of parents said they would let a ten-to-fourteen year-old child watch an 18-rated movie.
The survey sampled parents of children aged between five and sixteen, 53% of whom were boys, and 47% were girls. Roughly three quarters (73%) of the respondents were mothers.
Alongside the attitudes of parents toward games, the survey also looked into subsequent changes in child behaviour. 43% of parents reported a negative change in their child’s behaviour after playing games aimed at adults, while 22% stated their children now understood or used bad language since playing adult-oriented games.
The survey comes at a time when games are once again under the microscope regarding how they impact upon children, with the massive popularity of Fortnite amongst kids resulting in the game catching heat in the mainstream media.
Richard Conway, founder of childcare.co.uk, said “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. 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.”
It’s a striking set of statistics, but what the survey doesn’t reveal is why parents are less strict with monitoring gaming age-ratings. Do they simply believe that all games are for children despite the number on the box? Or do they think that any material depicted in a virtual form can’t be as bad as similar content depicted by real actors in a film? Either way, it’s not surprising that gaming violence so frequently causes public hysteria if parents are letting their kids play this stuff.