“We all want to have fun and have a lot of free time to have and also have video games.” – Boy, 13, The Big Ask.
Today I’m publishing some children’s voices on video games.
Part of the statutory role of the Children’s Commissioner is to consider the views and interests of children. Both are important parts of my role, but sometimes they can be in competition. Listening to children is a principle I hold incredibly tight, but I can see that listening uncritically to children’s view on certain issues – like appropriate bedtimes! – may not be in their interests. Gaming is one of those area where I fear children’s views and interests may be in competition.
The findings that I publish today show that children generally do not see games as a significant cause of harm to their health and wellbeing, although children were more concerned about the impact of multi-player games and girls were less positive than boys.
However, that does not mean that we should not ward against the very real harms that can go along with gaming for some children. As the qualitative reanalysis of data from The Big Ask survey shows, children have conflicting feelings about games – seeing them as a fun hobby that they value, but also expressing wariness about the addictive nature of games and other associated harms.
“Well I want to be an author, but the thing holding me back is that I like playing games and usually I can’t finish a book – mainly because I get tired of writing really quickly.” – Girl, 11, The Big Ask.
“Video games are a big factor contributing to unfulfillment as from a young age children can become addicted and deluded into believing they can become famous gamers which in result will lead to them wasting valuable time to learn, read and exercise.” – Boy, 13, The Big Ask.
“I think personally the biggest thing that keeps them from achieving their dreams is lack from gambling protection from loot boxes.” – Boy, 12, The Big Ask.
Children have a right to play, which extends to the digital playgrounds of video games. Gaming can be a positive activity through which children find community and learn new skills. I hope they will also have a lot of fun!
“Being able to play more computer games and having more fun.” – Boy, 8, The Big Ask.
My ambition is that children are safe to play wherever they are – in their local park or in a gaming lobby with their friends. I will continue to look into the issues of harms for children that come from gaming, and how these are reflected in the implementation of the Online Safety Act.