The U.K. government is set to change its videogame rating system following the long-awaited release of the Byron Review.
Commissioned in September 2007 and released today, the Review by Dr. Tanya Byron recommended several changes to the current classification system in the U.K. as well as legal restrictions on the sale of mature-rated games to children. The report suggested videogames needed a more "robust" classification system with clearer content ratings, similar to those used for movies. She said some parents didn't understand the risks of the "digital world," according to a report in the Mirror, adding, "The digital world risks are similar to real world risks but can be enhanced by the anonymity and ubiquity that the online space brings."
Other recommendations in the report include:
- An "overhaul" of console game advertising
- Making it illegal to sell videogames to children younger than age ratings indicated on the box
- Developing a code of practice for social networking sites like Facebook, including setting standards for privacy and harmful content
- Launching a campaign to assist parents in understanding the material on the internet, and how to prevent their children from accessing it
- Introducing legislation banning internet-assisted suicide
- Creating a new U.K. Council for Child Internet Safety to assist with the implementation of the new strategies
"If our children were leaving the house, or going to a swimming pool or going to play in the street, we would take all the care possible about their safety," U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. "When a child goes on to the computer and on to the internet or on to a videogame we should be thinking in the same way. It's really difficult for parents because we didn't grow up in the computer age, many of us."
"We've got to make it easier for parents and get the information to them in a more simple form. We've got to get the classification clearer so that people know 12-plus. When someone is trying to sell a game they've got to give the proper information," he added. "I think Britain can lead the world in this because other countries have got the same problems and all of us as parents are worried about our children so let's see if we can make a difference in this."
Ed Balls, the U.K. Minister of Schools, said the government would move quickly to implement all of Byron's recommendations.