Dec 7, 2009
Parental controls on gaming devices overlooked by parents
Despite the importance of age-appropriate material for children and ensuring the balance between playing video games and other forms of recreation, many Australian parents are unaware of the parental controls built into popular console gaming devices.
A Newspoll study of over 500 parents* revealed that just 26 per cent were aware of the controls within most consoles to help manage the amount of time their children spent playing games, and a further 49 per cent of parents were not aware of classification locks.
Commissioned by the industry body, the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA), the survey found that when parents were given the choice of using classification and time settings and notifications, 79 per cent would versus 21 per cent who would not use the controls.
According to Ron Curry CEO of the iGEA, the study was commissioned to better understand awareness of the tools amongst parents.
“Interactive gaming is played by young children, teens, Mums and Dads and as a popular family past-time, we want to equip parents will the tools to ensure their children enjoy the best gaming experience.
All of the popular games platforms have built in controls to help parents ensure that the children are playing games that are suitable for their age. The majority of platforms also have specific tools to help parents manage the amount of time their children spend playing games. .”
“Up to 88 per cent of Australian homes* have at least one device for playing video and computer games and we are urging parents to be aware of the settings that can help families ensure healthy gaming habits,” said Curry.
Of the 21 percent who wouldn’t use any parental controls; 38 per cent weren’t concerned about the length of time their child played for, 34 percent weren’t concerned about the type of games played and 22 percent believed their child could override the parental lock.
Well known adolescent psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg believes young people need a moral compass and urged parents to take a greater interest in their family’s video gaming habits and to use interactive entertainment to help bring families together.
“In a few quick steps, parents can create password-protected profiles for each family member that help balance time spent on gaming and other activities and ensure their children only access age appropriate content,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.
Stephanie Brantz, Channel Nine sports reporter and mother of three enthusiastic gamers, believes the best strategy is to get involved and take on the kids.
“Being a competitive person at heart, I’ve had some enthralling battles racing cars and playing tennis, especially with my eldest son who’s built up amazing dexterity from gaming. Initially, I stood on the sidelines while they played but now it has become a popular family activity and you relate to kids on their level,” Stephanie said.
Through parental control settings on gaming devices, Stephanie sets a daily play limit of one hour per day for each child and closely monitors what games are played.
“Gaming in our house is on par with watching TV and similar to other interactive entertainment, all kids need a healthy balance between spending time with family and friends, outdoor activities and playing video games,” she said.
Confirming gaming’s status as a mainstream family activity, the Newspoll revealed 69 per cent of parents either regularly or occasionally play video and computer games with their children – Dads proving to be the biggest fans – 81 per cent participating compared to 59 per cent of Mums.
“Interactive games are played by all generations across the entire household and publishers continue to produce quality games to meet the demand. Family games are the best selling genre and 67 per cent of all games sold last year were G or PG rated titles,” Curry said.
Other interesting statistics from the research included:
- Of the parents surveyed, males had a higher awareness of both parental control functions (66%) compared to females (40%).
- 54% of parents said the parental lock functions would mean there would be fewer arguments about video game usage in the household
- 85% of parents said the parental lock functions would provide a safeguard to prevent their child from playing games with inappropriate content
- 73% of parents said the parental lock functions would help establish a routine around playing video games
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*IA9 is based on a national random sample of 1,614 households in which as many adults responded to more than 75 questions providing over 300 data points in a 20-minute online survey. The survey was fielded by Nielsen Research in July 2008.
* Newspoll research was conducted nationally involving 535 adults with dependent children aged up to 17 in the household. The research was conducted over the period 12 – 15 of November 2009.