uk: Ministers plan clampdown on ‘unsuitable’ video games

A legally enforceable cinema-style classification system is to be introduced for video games in an effort to keep children from playing damaging games unsuitable for their age, the Guardian has learned. Under the proposals, it would be illegal for shops to sell classified games to a child below the recommended age.At present only games showing sex or “gross” violence to humans or animals require age limits. That leaves up to 90% of games on the market , many of which portray weapons, martial arts and extreme combat, free from statutory labelling.Ministers are also expected to advise parents to keep computers and games consoles away from children’s bedrooms as much as possible, and ask them to play games in living rooms or kitchens facing outward so carers can see what is being played.Ministers are also expected to recommend blocking mechanisms to protect children from seeing unsuitable games, emails or internet sites. Discussions have already been held with internet service providers to see if an agreement on a standardised filter can be reached. From the Parliament of the UK: Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. — [Mr. Blizzard.] [6 Feb 2008 : Column 1089]
Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon) (Con): Seven or so years ago, a Home Office Minister said in a parliamentary answer on the task force for child protection that the “aim is to make the United Kingdom (UK) the best and safest place in the world for children to use the internet”. — [ Official Report, 4 February 2002; Vol. 379, c. 671W.] Last year, however, 32 per cent. of children said that they had received unwanted, nasty or sexual comments while on the web. Freedom of information and the unhampered exchange of that information are, of course, at the heart of a free world. What we do not want is Government control of the internet, such as exists in China and elsewhere. The internet is a space for creativity, communication and a fantastic tool for use in education. Too often, any discussion of internet safety leads to the internet being labelled as a bad thing. Clearly, the reverse is the case, but internet users should expect a degree of protection not least from fraud and illegal content, and, for our children, from harmful content.

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