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Does your child play violent video games?

Just like television and movies, video games are classified to help decide what is suitable for your children to play.

As a parent or carer, you are the best person to talk with your child about which video games are ok for them to play.

Some games contain strong, realistic and graphic violence. This violence may upset, harm or disturb young children because they are not developmentally ready to be exposed to it.

Just like you may not want your child watching MA 15+ or R 18+ movies because the content is not suitable for them, you might not want them playing MA 15+ or R 18+ games for the same reason.

Here are our tips to help you and your child decide what video games are appropriate for them.

Check the classification rating

Australian classification laws require that video games must be classified before they are sold and must display classification markings.

These markings will provide you with information about the strongest content in the game such as violence, sex, nudity, coarse language, drug use or themes (eg horror, suicide, simulated gambling).

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MA 15+ games can contain strong violence such as shooting with a variety of real-life military weapons, as well as some blood and gore. These games are legally restricted to people aged 15 years and over.

R 18+ games can contain high impact violence that may be frequent, realistic and feature decapitations and dismemberment. These games can show detailed wounds and large amounts of blood and gore. These games are legally restricted to adults only.
Young children may be disturbed by this type of violence in video games or find it difficult to understand or deal with.

Check out our video on Computer games and classification ratings.

Be informed and involved

Having an interest in your child’s video gaming can help you decide if the games they are playing are suitable for them.
Ask your child what games they are playing or watch them while they play. Even better, play a game with them.  Ask them questions like, ‘what is the game about?’ and ‘Why would you like to play it?’ Understanding their motivations will help you identify alternatives to unsuitable games if necessary.
Before downloading or buying a game for your child, do some research to decide if it’s ok for your child. Visit www.classification.gov.au to check the game’s rating, read reviews and talk to other parents and carers.

Use parental controls

Parental controls exist on Android and Apple phones, as well as tablets and all major consoles to help you manage what content your child is able to access on all the devices in your house. You can set parental controls to limit your child’s access only to games that have been given lower classifications (eg G or PG rated games).

Explain to your child why you don’t want them playing certain types of games. Let your child know that as they get older, these controls can be reviewed and changed.

The eSafety Commissioner has useful guides on setting up parental controls on their website: www.esafety.gov.au/parents/skills-advice/taming-technology.

Stay involved

Continue to talk regularly with your child about their gaming interests, who they are playing with and what they play online. Help them understand the risks.

Monitor and supervise what your child is playing and encourage your child to tell you if they experience anything that worries them or makes them uncomfortable.

Find out more information at: www.esafety.gov.au/parents/big-issues/gaming