Video firms must make games safe

The People - - NEWS FEATURES -

FOR par­ents who grew up with a cou­ple of Ital­ian plumbers called Mario and Luigi, to­day’s games mar­ket is a mine­field.

Some­times lit­er­ally. Plenty of vi­o­lent games fea­ture ex­plod­ing mines.

So re­spon­si­ble mums and dads en­sure the games their chil­dren dis­ap­pear into their bed­rooms with are age ap­pro­pri­ate and play is time lim­ited. Then they leave them to it.

For them we have a salu­tary warn­ing – our rev­e­la­tion to­day of how a nine-year-old girl ended up in re­hab af­ter be­com­ing ad­dicted to Fort­nite.

Her story will dis­turb ev­ery par­ent with chil­dren of a sim­i­lar age. As she be­came in­creas­ingly drawn into the game she be­gan fall­ing asleep in school.

Even though her par­ents give her an hour time limit on school days, she was get­ting up in the mid­dle of the night for more, wet­ting her­self be­cause she was too en­grossed to go to the loo.

It does not help that star foot­ballers who kids look up to also pro­mote the game.

Nor that professional game play­ers can earn big money on in­ter­net video chan­nels.

This shows is that all com­puter games have the po­ten­tial to turn young peo­ple into ad­dicts.

But too lit­tle is known about how they do it.

That’s why Dig­i­tal Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock is in­sist­ing on in­dus­try-funded re­search into the po­ten­tial dam­age they cause.

The in­dus­try is not so keen on co-oper­at­ing. That means the Gov­ern­ment must get even tougher with them.

They must come up with proper safe­guards and com­pre­hen­sive guide­lines for young play­ers.

And if they do not, Mr Han­cock must leg­is­late to make them.

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