Rio Ferdinand fronts parental gaming advice campaign

The campaign by the games industry follows advice to parents from the charity NSPCC about the importance of controls to prevent online harm among children.

Joe Lepper | 10th Jan 20
rio ferdinand playing video games

Former footballer Rio Ferdinand is fronting a UK games industry campaign to promote better understanding among parents of how digital controls can protect their children.

This aims to answer concerns among parents about how much time their children spend playing games online.

The UK Interactive Entertainment Association (UKIE), the not for profit group that represents the UK gaming industry, has launched its Get Smart About P.L.A.Y campaign aimed at encouraging parents to use parental controls to manage screen time and children’s use of in-game purchases on consoles.

The move follows advice from the children’s charity NSPCC on the importance of parental controls on gaming consoles and tablet devices can help keep children safe online.

The NSPCC’s online advice says that parental controls are vital to blocking and filtering “upsetting and inappropriate content and control purchases within apps”.

Such controls can also help plan how long a child can be online for and manage content so that different family members can see it.

A 2019 study by the NSPCC found that only a fifth of parents of children aged five-15 use family controls on internet connected devices.

A further poll by UKIE has found that half of parents and carers in the UK are concerned about how much time their children spend playing games.

To help promote the campaign UKIE has enlisted former England defender and keen gamer Rio Ferdinand to explain further about how parents can keep children safe online.

“My kids love playing video games but as a parent it is important for me to be able to manage the amount of time they play,” said Fedinand.

“Family controls can help achieve a balance at home between screen time and other activities. They’re easy to use and save a lot of arguments in the long run.”

Loot box concerns

Last September MPs sitting on the Digital Culture, Media and Sport Committee raised further concerns about gaming’s affect on young people, particularly the use of so called ‘loot boxes’. MPs are concerned that these are fuelling a growth in gambling addiction and called for a ban on their sale to children.

Loot boxes are features in games where players can pay for random items. Not for profit campaign group Safer Online Gambling found that children spend on average £500 to £600 a year on online gaming via mobile apps.

Advice for parents

The Get Smart About P.L.A.Y campaign is based around four key pieces of advice for parents. These are:

P – Play with your kids. Understand what they play and why.

L – Learn about family controls.

A – Ask what your kids think. Discuss ground rules before setting restrictions.

Y – You’re in charge. Set restrictions that work for your family.

UKIE Chief Executive Dr Jo Twist said: “These controls can effectively help manage screen time and age-appropriate play even when you’re not in the room. It doesn’t take long to set up the controls and it means families can enjoy games together safely.”