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Over 50% of U.K. Parents Allow Kids to Play Games Meant for 18+

More than half of parents let their children play games recommended for adults only in the U.K., according to a survey from Childcare.co.uk.

The U.K. uses the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating system, which classifies games under 3, 7, 12, 16, and 18. The survey noted that parents allow their children to play these PEGI 18 titles “without supervision or knowledge of the game beforehand.” Of the 2,171 respondents, 72% were mothers. The parents surveyed overall had children from the ages of five to 16, 53% of which were boys, and 47% girls.

The survey, found by GamaSutra, also revealed that 86% of respondents don’t pay attention to the ratings assigned to games. Many parents surveyed feel differently about film ratings, as only 23% responded that they don’t concern themselves over film age restrictions.

Childcare’s Richard Conway commented on the conundrum parents are faced with in picking and choosing appropriate content for their kids.

“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,” Conway said. “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 behavior or language in a video game or movie, they may mimic it.”

It’s unclear if Conway’s note about children “mimicking” negative content in video games comes from personal experience or research, but it is perhaps notable that 43% of the parents surveyed have “seen a negative change in their child’s behavior since playing games aimed at adults” and 22% said their kids now understand and use bad language after playing.

Almost half (48%) of parents indicated that they fear their child may be addicted to video games. While the World Health Organization did recently submit “gaming disorder” as a part of consideration for their most recent edition of the International Classification of Diseases, parents can be assured that the symptoms that would qualify one to receive such a diagnosis are far more severe than a child throwing a tantrum when they don’t get to play “Pokemon Go.”

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