A new campaign to help parents better understand gaming safety issues has been launched with the backing of video gaming giant Electronic Arts.
The Play Together/Play Smart initiative comes as almost six out of 10 adults (58%) revealed they are unaware of the parental controls available on consoles, according to an Internet Matters survey of 2,000 people.
Despite increasing concern around how much time children spend playing games and video gaming with strangers, only 42% said they actually speak to their children about safety.
Yet, of those who have already set up parental controls, 80% claimed it was easy to do.
Former England footballer and TV pundit Ian Wright is also supporting the campaign, alongside Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn, who host the Scummy Mummies podcast.
“I’m a big believer in getting involved and supporting the things that my kids and grandkids love,” Wright said.
“I play video games with my children and grandchildren, it’s something that connects us and it also means I know exactly what they are doing online.
“Life is so different to when we were kids and time together is important, so it’s vital that we as parents feel connected and understand children’s online activity.
“I know it may feel alien for some parents at first, but playing video games together will allow you to talk openly with your kids about what they’re up to, both online and offline, so you can feel confident that they’re gaming safely and responsibly.”
Electronic Arts – known for hit games including The Sims, Fifa and Medal of Honor – has teamed up with online child safety organisation Internet Matters on the initiative, launching an online advice hub for parents, including guides on setting screen time boundaries and managing in-game spending.
“We understand that it’s not easy for all parents,” said Samantha Ebelthite, head of global commercial markets intelligence at Electronic Arts.
“That’s why we take seriously our responsibility to provide tools and help parents and players to understand how to use them effectively.
“We believe that parental controls, coupled with an ongoing and open discussion within the family about healthy play time, age-appropriate games and online behaviour, can help to ensure that kids always have a positive experience when playing video games whether that’s by themselves, or with their family and friends.”
The survey revealed that six in 10 parents (63%) worry their children are spending too long playing on their devices, while more than half (52%) are concerned about youngsters video gaming with strangers.
However, there is also recognition of the benefits of gaming, with nearly seven out of 10 (69%) saying they believe it builds self-confidence and a similar number (67%) suggesting it helps in social development.