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Are video games dividing your family? Come and put your Qs about video game safety to Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie (UK Interactive Entertainment)

(27 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 21-Sep-15 15:08:55

Do you worry about how much your kids play on video games?

Are video games dividing your family?

We're running a Q&A this week we're inviting you to put your questions and concerns about games your children play to Dr Jo Twist, CEO of UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), the trade body for games and interactive entertainment businesses in the UK.

With a background in digital media, education, creative technology and youth culture, and a PhD in online communities, identity, and young people, Jo brings a wealth of experience in all aspects of interactive entertainment including media, technical innovation and creativity, commercial and political issues.

Ukie is committed to making gaming a fun, safe experience for gamers of all ages which is why they set up www.askaboutgames.com, a site where parents can find a wealth of information about safe, sensible gaming from understanding games' age ratings, how to set parental controls on games consoles through to family-friendly games reviews.

Post your questions to Jo before Friday 9th October and we'll upload her answers to this thread on 16 October

bigbadbarry Fri 02-Oct-15 09:40:44

Hi Jo
This isn't really a safety question but I am interested to know what you think. All my kids (aged 5-11) like mine craft, which I think is fine. I'd probably prefer them to be running about outside ;) but it is definitely a good game to be playing. However, they seem to have moved on from actually playing it themselves to watching videos of other people (stampy!) playing, on YouTube. For hours on end, if I let them. What do you think about that?

erzsebel Fri 02-Oct-15 09:43:24

Hi Jo, my 9yo loves to watch Let's Play videos (which I find utterly tedious), but we find that as he clicks through choosing what to watch, each youtube video loads, and this is using up huge amounts of bandwidth (he can get through 3GB in half an hour this way!). We have tried installing something to prevent videos from autoplaying, and limiting time on youtube, and not watching in full screen, but the problem persists. Do you have any ideas?

turkeyboots Fri 02-Oct-15 12:01:00

What are the real risks from videogames that most parents are unaware of? And what are the myths around risk?

And are there any easy ways to protect our DC. My own video game experience was a hand held Donkey Kong game, so beyond following the PEGI ratings, I am totally clueless.

Ingles2 Sat 03-Oct-15 07:36:14

Yep, the ps4 is a problem in our house.. So what I'd like to know is, is there a way of having a timer on specific devices in the house? At the moment I turn the router off, but that's a problem as dh and I run a business from home. Thanjs

TheWoodenSpoonOfMischief Sat 03-Oct-15 11:45:49

I think different children react differently to gaming. I don't think all children can deal well with the emotions and stress level fluctuations involved.
I know mine have mood changes after playing so I limit it to Saturdays only for a couple of hours.
What's your opinion on this?

Eveysdad Sat 03-Oct-15 21:43:47

Why do you think video games are vilified the way they are? People hve no issues watching violent movies for hours, or watching 2 hours of soaps every night with murders, beatings, domestic violence etc and yet video games are evil?

HormonalHeap Sun 04-Oct-15 01:44:17

I have a 15yo son who has a serious addiction to gaming, in that it has become his whole life, he has no other interest and is not taking schoolwork seriously. It has been a steady decline over the last three years and he becomes aggressive, violent and tearful when we take it away. Our whole lives now revolve around regulating the Xbox and it is tearing us apart. I have no idea where to turn because for addiction counselling to work he would have to want to be helped.. but he has no intention of being 'cured'.

HexBramble Sun 04-Oct-15 10:12:49

From a teacher perspective, it's an issue and it affects performance in school. The popular games in my school are the hardcore GTA, CoD etc despite age restrictions. Parents either don't care or they're totally ignorant of the games' contents.

Eveysdad has a point - I also find the dark, depressing soaps abhorrent but lots of parents are happy for their children to sit infront of domestic violence (etc) in Eastenders.

VoyageOfDad Tue 06-Oct-15 09:14:07

I actually find playing games with my dd 6 together is a rewarding experience as long as we keep an eye on the time.

Jo what would you say are stand out games to play with 6 year olds on a console ?

It's the tidal wave of pink sparkly make over games I'm having to police rather than violent games!

mumsnit Tue 06-Oct-15 20:46:51

Also interested in opinions about the YouTube gamers like Stampy. I know he's curbed the language but I wonder about the endless flashing images and visual stimulation - makes me feel nauseous to watch them myself!

Really interested to look at the website as I feel out of my depth when it comes to what is suitable and what isn't. We have refused to buy certain games despite the fact that all their friends are playing them. I'm worried as my 11yo DS is pretty obsessed and would always rather be in on his Xbox than out with friends. The more we try to get him outside and limit screen time the more he gets angry and resentful :-(

Kriek Wed 07-Oct-15 12:06:45

We love playing games together as a family. DD aged 8 and DS aged 5 are great for levelling up Skylander characters whilst DH and I will watch them. At the moment we are into Skylanders, Rayman, Sonic, and Disney Infinity. I am looking forward to Christmas because we are getting them the Lego Dimensions set and it looks amazing.

We are aware of keeping an eye on screen time but I would rather they play these with us than learn about other games elsewhere.

StuntNun Thu 08-Oct-15 06:01:58

Are there any good options for parental controls? Sky will let me block specific sites but then my 12yo DS will just switch to another game. He gets majorly obsessed to the point where he doesn't do homework and doesn't want to leave his computer at dinner time because he's "in the middle of something". I have had to change the WIFI password so that he can't access the Internet at all any more. I don't want to be so restrictive but there doesn't seem to be a middle ground. I had tried unplugging the router in the past but that means no-one in the house can access the Internet either.

MumOfOne14 Thu 08-Oct-15 11:40:06

Yeah I can't get my DH off them & it's driving me nuts! He just can't be bothered with us half the time & would rather disappear into this fantasy world instead sad

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 09-Oct-15 13:39:04

Thanks so much for your Qs. We'll be sending them over to Jo today and will post up her answers next Friday (16 Oct).

Seeyounearertime Fri 16-Oct-15 21:36:38

Where do we read answers?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 19-Oct-15 09:56:22

Jo's answers are back now and we're about to upload them to this thread.

JoTwist Mon 19-Oct-15 10:02:04

bigbadbarry

Hi Jo
This isn't really a safety question but I am interested to know what you think. All my kids (aged 5-11) like mine craft, which I think is fine. I'd probably prefer them to be running about outside ;) but it is definitely a good game to be playing. However, they seem to have moved on from actually playing it themselves to watching videos of other people (stampy!) playing, on YouTube. For hours on end, if I let them. What do you think about that?

So many of the YouTubers making games videos for kids are really fantastic role models for children, and it’s great that younger people can engage directly with people they look up to online. They learn communication and even PR skills from them, and they are just like the TV stars of our childhood who might have inspired us into the jobs we are in now.

They are creating a sense of belonging, as well as interesting and engaging content for younger audiences and I think that being part of communities on YouTube is a great way for children to learn more about what they are playing, and how to critique. They’re also a great way for parents to interact with the games that their children are playing, which is something I would highly recommend.

There are also ways parents can challenge children to recreate what they are building in Minecraft, outside of the game too, encouraging creative offline skills.

As you say, watching this YouTube content can become enthralling, and so we do recommend (like with any online activity) that it is all about balance and ensuring that time online is broken by regular breaks or using parental controls to limit time spent in front of a screen. I remember my mum telling me I would get square eyes watching too much telly. Nothing changes, just the delivery of content!

JoTwist Mon 19-Oct-15 10:07:19

erzsebel

Hi Jo, my 9yo loves to watch Let's Play videos (which I find utterly tedious), but we find that as he clicks through choosing what to watch, each youtube video loads, and this is using up huge amounts of bandwidth (he can get through 3GB in half an hour this way!). We have tried installing something to prevent videos from autoplaying, and limiting time on youtube, and not watching in full screen, but the problem persists. Do you have any ideas?

I’mafraid I’mnot an expert in bandwidth! However, from personal experience,small changes likemaking sure your device isn’t set to watching videos in HD can savebandwidth: full screening doesn't really make a difference. Every device will also contain inbuilt parental controls, using which you can limit time spent online, and you could also contact you Internet Service Provider to discuss accessing parental controls to limit usage.

There are some really good data deals now for mobile and home broadband: also make sure if he is streaming the content in a mobile when out and about he is doing it when there is public wifi available so he is not using up your mobile data.
It’s also really important that parents chat to their kids about their use of the internet, so try sitting down and discussing what is a fair and reasonable amount of time to spend watching videos may help to manage their time online and the cost to you!

JoTwist Mon 19-Oct-15 10:12:53

turkeyboots

What are the real risks from videogames that most parents are unaware of? And what are the myths around risk?

And are there any easy ways to protect our DC. My own video game experience was a hand held Donkey Kong game, so beyond following the PEGI ratings, I am totally clueless.

As long as parents remain actively involved and gain an understanding of the games their children are playing, games pose many benefits to children and little risk at all. Ensuring that your children are only able to access content that is suitable for their age (PEGI ratings are a great example of this – you can find info here), enjoy games as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and communicate with parents about their online activity, games should be enjoyed by all as a safe and engaging past time.

I wish I had time to address all the myths I want to debunk about games. Often in the media, people read stories about all games including violent or age inappropriate content and this just isn’t the case – only 7% of games are rated as an 18 and we have to understand that games are a mature media just like film, TV and books, with content that is designed to appeal to different ages. I often get told that it is when children play games at their friends' houses that they play age inappropriate material. But I would encourage parents to speak with other parents and suggest other games that give just as much pleasure but are more suitable. People should check out the beautiful content created by State of Play Games, Fat Pebble, Mike Bithell's games, any of the Lego games or Media Molecule, to name but a few who handcraft experiences – with stunning results.

Games also have a huge amount of positive impacts that people are unaware of: systems thinking, logic, strategic thinking, problem solving, team management, maths, literacy, social skills, cognitive skills - all proven to be improved by playing games. Even surgeons and fighter pilots are using games to train, showing how many positive applications games have that many people are simply unaware of. Games are used to tackle serious mental health issues, and to help people understand complex global problems. Check out Games for Change for examples.

JoTwist Mon 19-Oct-15 10:15:16

HexBramble

From a teacher perspective, it's an issue and it affects performance in school. The popular games in my school are the hardcore GTA, CoD etc despite age restrictions. Parents either don't care or they're totally ignorant of the games' contents.

Eveysdad has a point - I also find the dark, depressing soaps abhorrent but lots of parents are happy for their children to sit infront of domestic violence (etc) in Eastenders.

If parents and carers ensure that children are playing games safely and sensibly, there is no reason at all that games should affect performance in school. We really encourage parents to become involved in the games that their children are playing: not only will it become an enjoyable shared past time, but also parents can be vigilant of their child’s wellbeing.

Incorporating some games in the classroom as learning tools is very useful for sparking off discussion and critical thinking about issues and subjects. Check out games featured the Games for Change website, and games such as Sweatshop or Pandemic as well as others such as The Sims. Children are surrounded with some tough issues affecting society, and games can help children understand safely the consequences of actions or decisions, as well as build resilience in them which are skills for life. Tools to make games are also freely available, such as Scratch, Unity, Twine, Game Maker - all of which can channel their creative energy as project-based work.

Like with all media, some games contain content that is not suitable for younger audiences. There is a shared responsibility to ensure children’s access to inappropriate content is monitored or understood, whether this is TV, games, film or music. PEGI rating are robust and in place for this very reason, and we urge parents to follow them when purchasing games for their children.

JoTwist Mon 19-Oct-15 10:17:35

StuntNun

Are there any good options for parental controls? Sky will let me block specific sites but then my 12yo DS will just switch to another game. He gets majorly obsessed to the point where he doesn't do homework and doesn't want to leave his computer at dinner time because he's "in the middle of something". I have had to change the WIFI password so that he can't access the Internet at all any more. I don't want to be so restrictive but there doesn't seem to be a middle ground. I had tried unplugging the router in the past but that means no-one in the house can access the Internet either.

There are many good options for parental controls. Every device and console will give access to parental controls that you can use to limit time spent online. On our website, askaboutgames.com, there is a page that has an entire listing of each console and how to utilise the parental control settings to ensure that your son will enjoy his games for an amount of time that makes you feel comfortable.

But perhaps taking a real interest over meal times in what it is he is in the middle of, encouraging him to talk about it, explain it to you or show you, may help. Then his interests become a shared conversation topic. Taking their passion offline can be hard but it is possible.

JoTwist Mon 19-Oct-15 10:19:08

Ingles2

Yep, the ps4 is a problem in our house.. So what I'd like to know is, is there a way of having a timer on specific devices in the house? At the moment I turn the router off, but that's a problem as dh and I run a business from home. Thanjs

All consoles will have inbuilt parental controls, which can ensure your children can only access age appropriate content and for an agreed upon amount of time. For a full listing of how to set up family controls across all consoles, see this page on askaboutgames.com

JoTwist Mon 19-Oct-15 10:37:22

TheWoodenSpoonOfMischief

I think different children react differently to gaming. I don't think all children can deal well with the emotions and stress level fluctuations involved.
I know mine have mood changes after playing so I limit it to Saturdays only for a couple of hours.
What's your opinion on this?

Like with all entertainment products, games should be played in a sensible way and enjoyed as part of an active, healthy and balanced lifestyle. Some games can be intensive, and taking regular breaks is important to maintain healthy gameplay. But they can take that break by talking to you or writing about, or drawing what they've doing in the game. This acknowledgement that what they are doing in games is of interest to you, and gaining your respect for how good they are in that game, or what they have achieved is powerful.

There is a huge variety of games genres available, and many do very well at helping young people to reflect on life in ways they wouldn't normally, such as Journey, Life is Strange or Thomas was Alone.

I loved sport as a child and competition gave me the same fluctuations of emotions. It is quite normal and some studies misinterpret emotional response to games as caused by violence when in fact it is the competition and desire to achieve that results in heightened emotions. This is all part of being human. Again, talking about it helps. Limiting access to Saturday's only might inadvertently cause him to be even moodier!

You should discuss the games that your children are playing with them, and find out what it is they enjoy about each game in particular and work together to find a game that you find suitable and he finds fun. Askaboutgames is updated regularly with top games charts for each PEGI rating age group, so check that out.

JoTwist Mon 19-Oct-15 10:38:31

Eveysdad

Why do you think video games are vilified the way they are? People hve no issues watching violent movies for hours, or watching 2 hours of soaps every night with murders, beatings, domestic violence etc and yet video games are evil?

I think the vilification of games over other media comes from people being misinformed about the industry and some lazy, simply inaccurate stereotypes about people who play games. The mainstream press has a big role to play in that perception, and most "bad news" reports are based on inadequate methodologies, generalisations and assumptions. They can be easily critiqued and countered with dozens of other research reports that say the opposite. If you actually read the research, they often say very different things to how reporters cover it.
This is frustrating for me not only as someone who loves this industry, but also as a former academic, journalist, and as former Channel 4 Commissioner for Education who worked with psychologists to commission games. The press always likes sensation, sadly. There is a misguided stereotype that popular games are full of violence and mature content, which just isn’t the case. There is a huge market for a wide range of genres of games across all platforms, and it is a matter of doing some research to find them. Monument Valley on mobile is magical, all the Lego games are fantastic, Tearaway, Little Big Planet, any of the sports games, The Sims, a plethora of world building games, as well as some of the more intriguing titles I have mentioned above

Games are educational, build skills and are hugely innovative. One in three people in the UK play every day, the average age is 33 and half of the regular players are women. Creating games is a mix of art, coding, design, music, and a whole host of other creative skills that produce beautiful and innovative content for people to enjoy. These negative stereotypes damage the perceptions some teachers, parents and carers have of games and that means young people often don't get guided around the incredibly fulfilling careers, whatever their passion, that are possible and open to them. This is a great shame: our future depends on these young people with a passion.

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