The government is asking for evidence for a new study of the effect of violent computer games on children. Psychologist Tanya Byron will head the study, which will also examine how to protect children from online material. The review is due to be launched by Dr Byron – together with Schools Secretary Ed Balls and Culture Secretary James Purnell.
Whilst the games industry’s association Elspa said it would co-operate, they said the industry was “too often blamed for everything from obesity to youth violence”. Paul Jackson from Elspa said: “It is just not true and it’s not appropriate … We feel quite positively about this review. It’s clear the review is about making sure parents are properly informed about what their youngsters are playing and what they are accessing on the internet.”
Philip Oliver, chief executive of Blitz games, made a great point about the need to educate parents: “They aren’t paying attention to the certificates. That is partly because they don’t understand them and have a distorted image of games – that either they are harmless or totally evil.”
It will be interesting to see what the research concludes. It is certainly the case that parents lack understanding about gaming, unlike say the internet where they often have at least a basic understanding of what young people are doing.