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Computer games to get film-style ratings

Govt gets tough on underage gaming

Film-style ratings should be given to video games, reports a government investigation into the effects of video games and the internet.

The Byron Review, led by child psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, recommended the rating system for games aimed at children aged 12 plus.

At present games are reviewed by the British Board of Film Classification only if they contain 'human sexual activity' or 'gross violence'. The games industry also adheres to a voluntary European ratings system called Pegi, which can mean one game has two differing ratings.

Dr Byron feels the current system is confusing and not strict enough on those that defy it. She has recommended games have just one set of symbols on the front of all boxes, which are the same as those for films.

According to Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls, the Government intends to implement the recommendations in full.

He told BBC News 24 that the Government would ensure that websites and hardware manufacturers gave better guidance to parents about safety features and controls.

According to The Times, the report also urges for increased punishment including hefty fines or up to five years in prison for retailers caught selling games to anyone under the age rating on the box.

Dr Byron said her review had led her to conclude that parents' general lack of confidence and awareness was "leaving children vulnerable to risks within their digital worlds".

"Digital world risks are similar to real world risks but can be enhanced by the anonymity and ubiquity that the online space brings," she added in the review.

Dr Byron has also called for a UK body to oversee children's internet safety, the creation of a website for parents where they can find our more information about online safety and a comprehensive public information and awareness campaign on child internet safety.

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