In an attempt to try to safeguard children from the possible harms of the digital environment, Kev Clelland, Operations Director at the Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), urged parents to develop a better understanding of game mechanics and online actions.
Writing for the charity as launched by FIFA 21, Clelland encouraged parents to use YGAM ‘s tools to “learn about their children’s games” and ensure better gaming habits.
He wrote as follows: “Parents across the UK, including myself, have been hearing all about the release of FIFA 21 for weeks now and the game has become just as popular as watching or playing football and no less competitive. However, I won’t be the only parent who has experienced the sometimes-toxic nature of online video gaming.
“For parents, it can be hugely worrying and unnerving to allow children to engage with friends and play online, especially with so many aspects of gaming being unfamiliar to many adults. Another area that causes concern and confusion for me and many parents is the use of Loot Boxes, or in the case of FIFA, Ultimate Team Packs (FUT Packs).
“The introduction of these games of chance in many video games played by children has led many to campaign for the reclassification of them as ‘games of chance’ making them subject to the Gambling Act.
“With what seems like an overwhelming amount of information out there, it is more important than ever that parents are able to understand the mechanics of the games that their children are playing. Being equipped to create reasonable and realistic boundaries is essential.”
Clelland drew attention to a study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League in 2019 that indicated that some form of harassment, violence, or bullying was received by the majority of people who played online games.
However, he noted that with a thorough understanding of the gaming climate, online games can ‘provide a hugely positive space for young people.’
He added: “Giving parents the resources and knowledge they need to understand games such as FIFA is key to being able to manage children’s safety online and minimise exposure to harmful behaviour.
“There are many great tips available through the YGAM Parents Hub on how to engage with children and help them stay safe.”
In 2020, since the COVID-19 lockout, children’s safety and the security of online environments have increased in importance to the government. DCMS has called on technology firms to follow the government’s guidelines established by its ‘white paper on online harms’ in informal meetings with big tech and media leadership, detailing the obligation of care responsibility for maintaining online environments.