Gaming is one of the most popular online activities for children and young people; it is a fun way to spend time with friends and family members and can create opportunities to develop teamwork, concentration skills and problem-solving.
Many games have an interactive online element, which enables users to play against others online, chat, send messages or make purchases. This online component can introduce additional risks, such as:
- Cyberbullying and harassment
- Exposure to inappropriate or harmful content, such as sexualised or violent material
- Grooming, online sexual abuse and exploitation
- In-app/game purchasing and gambling
- Overuse of screens and ‘addiction’
- Receiving requests or messages from unknown people.
Video games are age rated in accordance with the Pan European Gaming Information rating; the PEGI rating considers the age suitability of a game, not the level of difficulty.
The impact of video games on children and young people is widely debated and academic research is often inconclusive or conflicted. Some studies suggest that the impact of playing video games will depend on a range of factors, including family environment, age of child and developmental ability etc.