Video Games For Underage Children

A common assumption today is that the majority of people who either buy or play computer games and video games are children or young teenagers. In fact, well over sixty percent of all those who do play or buy such video games are over the age of eighteen. It is largely the older brothers and sisters, or even parents of the children who are the majority of gamers. When you look at the type and range of video games and computer games on the market, there is a large variety, some of which are suitable for children and families, but many of which are not, and in the case of video games which do feature more mature or adult content, this is clearly displayed on the cover label. Shops and retailers have a duty to ensure that games labeled for those only over the age of sixteen or eighteen are not sold to underage children, with proofs of age required in the case of any uncertainty. In reality, this actually happens quite rarely – even more rare than those retailers who check the ages of people buying videos and movies that have similar age restrictions or advice labels on them.

In fact, over eighty three percent of all those adults who buy computer games or video games for children against the publisher’s age recommendations are the parents themselves. There are perhaps three main reasons why this tends to be the case. The first reason is that many parents don’t even realise that computer games and video games have age limitations or restrictions at all. Unless they have carefully looked at the covers and read the labels, there is no other way of them knowing or realising. The second possible reason is that the parents know that there are age guidelines, but through simple child pester power, they give in. The age old excuse that all the child’s friends have it, and they’ve played it before many times, some parents imply give in for a quiet life.

A third possible reason is simply ignorance – that parents don’t realise just how much computer graphical capabilities have developed in the last few years. Many parents may be thinking back to the eighties when computer graphics were very pixelated and bland – no more than cartoons at best. They may well not realise that the graphical capabilities of a good video game and computer system today means that the level of detail is scarcely less that would be seen in a movie. Unless parents play an active role in looking carefully at the labels on video games, and even seeing the game itself, then this ignorance may well persist.

Perhaps it is the responsibility of the video games industry itself to increase the awareness of the importance of age guidelines on computer games, to help get the message across. If the eighty three percent of parents who buy underage goods for their children stopped doing this, then the problem of children playing these games would be seriously addressed. Clearly, since the majority of video gamers are adults, a change on the type of game available is not likely, or even appropriate, and so it is down to making sure that inappropriate items don’t fall into the wrong hands, as with anything such as alcohol, videos and car keys.