U.K. Publishes Report on Risks Posed by Internet and Video Games to Children

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Last year, Prime Minister Gordon Brown commissioned psychologist Tanya Byron to review "the risks children face from the internet and video games" That report is now available and describes Byron's assessment of such risks. U.K. politicians have promised to implement her suggestions.
If nothing else, the chapters on video games provide a partial overview of the literature and thoughts on the topic of violence and games. Fundamentally, Byron doesn't take a stance on the link (or lack thereof between games and violent behavior), arguing that "it is so dependent on the child's early experience, interpretation and context of use." Ultimately, Byron says: "More research is needed into the effect of the interactive and repetitive nature of video game playing on children." She also acknowledges that gaming can have benefits, further pointing out that the risks and benefits of games are similar to the risks and benefits of the internet in general.

FI's favorite quotation from the report is a sentiment that seems particularly productive: "Having considered the evidence[,] I believe we need to move from a discussion about the media 'causing' harm to one which focuses on children and young people, what they bring to technology and how we can use our understanding of how they develop to empower them to manage risks and make the digital world safer."

Her most actionable suggestion is to remind parents that not all games are appropriate for children, and that the classification systems (specifically in Britain and Europe) should be expanded to convey more information. "In relation to video games, we need to improve on the systems already in place to help parents restrict children's access to games which are not suitable for their age." She also suggests that ratings should be enforced in stores, with legal penalties for retailers who violate the age-ratings.

It will be fascinating to see in what form these suggestions are implemented as law.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on March 27, 2008 11:39 AM.

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