“Parents need to be better equipped to engage with their children about their online habits, and clear public health guidelines for the maximum length of time children should be spending playing computer games would at least offer some direction.”

Social Democrats Spokesperson for Children, Councillor Jennifer Whitmore today called for new public health guidelines for children playing computer games and a review of how some ‘loot boxes’ and in-game purchases target children.

Speaking on Safer Internet Day, Wicklow Cllr Whitmore said:

“Research today by Cyber Safe Ireland found that more than one in four children are playing online games designed for over 18-years-olds, and 40 per cent of children aged between eight and 10 years were actively talking to strangers online in some capacity.

“These are worrying trends and as a parent of young children myself I know how hard it can be for parents to navigate and regulate their children’s online activities.

“Parents need to be better equipped to engage with their children about their online habits, and clear public health guidelines for the maximum length of time children should be spending playing computer games would at least offer some direction.

“We also need to review how loot boxes and some in-game purchases are targeted at children. This should include the extent to which these constitute gambling and whether or not these should be banned in games with certain age-ratings.

“The Social Democrats want to see a requirement for a new warning system on computer games sold over-the-counter to alert parents that the game includes in-game purchases and/or loot boxes.”

ENDS

5th February 2019