To buy or not to buy is a burning question for many parents faced with children begging for the latest games. But thankfully, there is a system in place to make purchasing decisions so much easier.
You may have seen the age rating boxes on the packaging of games available to buy in the shops. These are regulated by an organisation called PEGI (which stands for Pan European Game Information). It is the sole age rating body for videogaming in the UK and it also used in European countries.
The ratings are helpful guides for parents when making decisions about appropriate content. They clearly show what age a game is suitable for and they are backed up by content descriptions.
There are five age categories (3, 7, 12, 16 and 18) and eight content descriptions (violence, bad language, fear, sex, gambling, drugs, discrimination and online).
Additionally some titles also feature the BBFC rating logos which again are helpful guides for parents when making decisions about appropriate content. They look identical to the age-rating guides you see on films.
The age ratings provided by PEGI are intended to be a guide rather than hard and fast rules. The ultimate decision is in the hands of parents or parental guardians. By becoming more familiar with how the ratings work, you will be better able to judge suitability.
Here are some tips:
PEGI ratings are double tiered. They state an age and they also provide additional information which make buying decisions easier. It is essential to understand that not all games are made for children. A large proportion of adults play games and there may be content in non-adult titles which are unsuitable for the very young.
So a PEGI 7 game is only suitable for those aged seven and above and an PEGI 18 game is only suitable for adults aged 18 and above. The PEGI rating considers the age suitability of a game, not the level of difficulty.
3 - suitable for those aged three and above
7 - suitable for those aged seven and above
12 - suitable for those aged 12 and above
16 - suitable for those aged 16 and above
18 - suitable for those aged 18 and above
Violence – Game contains depictions of violence
Bad language – Game contains bad language
Fear – Game may be frightening or scary for young children
Sex – Game depicts nudity and/or sexual behaviour or sexual references
Gambling – Games that encourage or teach gambling
Drugs – Game refers to or depicts the use of drugs
Discrimination – Game contains depictions of, or materials which may encourage, discrimination
Online – Online game
Anything done to excess is bad for you and videogames are no exception. When played as part of a balanced life, however, they are enriching and pose no danger to health.
Although some aspects of gaming should be noted – not least Nintendo's warning that children under the age of six should avoid playing on the Nintendo 3DS console – a new wave of active videogames means perceptions are changing.
A project by Nottingham Trent University scientists found in 2009 that playing Nintendo's Wii Sports may significantly contribute to the recommended levels of physical activity for children. It has shown that by playing interactive videogames, children can significantly contribute to their recommended daily levels of healthy physical activity.
Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, also says games can be a distraction for children undergoing painful treatment and can help children with attention deficit disorders gain social skills. He has found that games have successfully rehabilitated stroke patients, people with traumatic brain injuries, burns victims, wheelchair users, Erb’s palsy sufferers, children undergoing chemotherapy, children with muscular dystrophy and autistic children.
Games can also be a discussion point between parents and children, helping to foster family relationships. And games can be used by children to make friends, either by discussing them in the playground or sitting around a console at home.
With careful monitoring of videogame use, children can enjoy the hobby without the need to fear for their wellbeing.
Parental Control Tools
If you want to take some of the strain out of monitoring your child's videogame use, you can use the parental control locks build into consoles and computers.
The way they work varies but each offers a method of controlling access and they are based on a game's age rating.
You can set the restrictions that you can decide on a game-by-game basis which to allow your children to play.
There are also controls affecting access to the internet and the amount of time spent playing games.
The instruction manuals for your console will explain how you can set these controls. Alternatively you can find instructions online. Here we present the most popular systems today:
Microsoft: Xbox 360 Parental Controls
Nintendo: Wii Parental Controls
Nintendo: DS Parental Controls
Sony: PS2, PS3 and PSP Parental Controls
PC: Windows 7 Parental Controls
For more information on PEGI, health and safety, parental controls, please visit the PEGI website at: http://www.pegi.info/en/index/id/24
It is important that children are kept safe when they are online. Whether they are surfing the web, using social media or playing games, parents and guardians need to be on their guard. The Department for Education has released a new report, Advice on child internet safety 1.0, which you can view here.
About In-App Purchases
When you insert your password your iPhone stores it for 15 minutes. So if you download an app and then allow someone else to use it they will be free to make purchases for the next 15 minutes until it is requested again.
Preventing Apps from charging in-App
Open the Google Play Store app and choose 'Menu' and then 'Settings'. Under 'User Controls' you'll find an option to 'Set or Change PIN'. Tap this and Android will ask you for a PIN. Type your chosen PIN, tap OK and then re-enter the PIN to confirm. Then tick the box next to 'Use PIN for purchases'.Once you've done that, anyone who wants to make an in-app purchase on your device will need to know the PIN. That should keep your bills secure from little fingers.
The Restrictions menu in Apple iOS lets you control all kinds of things. You can send a password for in-app purchases or turn them off altogether. It's possible to prevent apps being deleted or installed and control access to age-restricted content.To prevent in-app purchases in iOS, open 'Settings' then choose 'General' and 'Restrictions'. Then tap 'Enable Restrictions', choose a PIN and enter it a second time to confirm. Now you can set any restrictions from the menu below. In the 'Allowed Content' menu, slide 'In app purchases' to 'Off'.
Obtaining an In-App Purchase refund
If you find that an app has inadvertently charged your card or due to a fault in the app you may want to follow this advice to dispute the transaction.
- Open iTunes and click the arrow next to your email address in the top right of the window and click Account
- Under Purchase History click 'See All'
- On the Purchase History page click 'Report a Problem'- Click Report a Problem on the item you wish to dispute.
- A webpage should open in the browser.
- Scroll down to the bottom option on the left-side navigation & click 'Contact Support'
- Click 'Get iTunes Support via Express Lane'- Complete the product selection, you should select
- iTunes > iTunes Store > Purchases, Billing & Redemption. Click continue.- On this screen select 'iTunes Store account billing'
- Complete the form and click continue.
- Click continue on the following screen - you do not need to log in.
- Send Apple an email explaining the issue.
- Please note: It may take 24 hours for Apple to reply.