Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, has publicly stated his support for a petition calling on video game manufacturers to help parents make more informed choices when it comes to allowing their children to buy video games.
Cornwall-based school Stratton Primary this week launched the action at Change.org asking video games companies to publish clearer content warnings for parents on their products, following a number of incidents of youngsters copying behaviours demonstrated in adult-rated games.
Championing the cause pioneered by the headteacher and governors at the school, Mr Simmonds said:
“I fully support this action by Stratton Primary School to petition computer game manufacturers to publish clearer warnings about the adult-rated content of games on the front of their packaging.
“The growing problem of under-age gaming is subjecting children and young people to content they are simply not ready to understand, and consequently we are informed of how racist phrases and sexual references taken straight from adult-rated games are being used in schools.
“Our pioneering Online Safety consultation of children and young people across Northamptonshire in 2015 told us that from the age of eight, 85% of children’s computer time is unsupervised. As a result, we need to ensure parents are fully informed of the true content of games they may be buying for their children through adequate and responsible labelling.”
Phil Aldis, Head at Stratton Primary School added:
“Underage gaming is an increasing problem in primary school education, where children as young as 6 years old are using racist and sexual references that they have copied from games.
“We believe the solution isn’t to tell people what to do and regulate. It is up to parents to decide what is right for their own children.
“Instead we are asking all gaming manufacturers of 18-certificate-rated video games to voluntarily publish clearer warnings on their front cover packaging, not on the back in small print, similar to tobacco packaging in style and prominence.”
The petition has also been publicly supported by a number of PCCs across England and Wales.