Kids Playing 18-Rated Games? Neglect, Apparently

Kids Playing 18-Rated Games? Neglect, Apparently

I've censored the above in case any under-18s from Cheshire are reading this. If you're under 18 and play GTA, Gears of War or Call of Duty in Cheshire, you might want to think again before loading it up next time.

That is, at least, if the Nantwich Education Partnership gets its way - the group, comprised of 15 primary schools and one secondary academy has released a letter, penned by headteachers, warning parents against allowing underage access to games like these.

Part of the letter read: "If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18+, we are advised to contact the police and children's social care as this is deemed neglectful."

No, you didn't read that wrong - the police and social services will be contacted, and the group deems parents allowing this as 'neglectful'.

My own parents were somewhat slack when it came to moderation of what I played (some are less slack). As long as we didn't start acting up in everyday life, it didn't matter much what we played. Is that neglect? I wouldn't have thought so.

Then again, modern gaming is a very different beast - and it's not just the content of the games themselves: there's a lot of interacting directly with other players. I say 'interacting', I mean 'swearing and threats of sexual violence'.

All the same - social services? Neglect? Taking parenting away from the parents? It seems a bit of a step further than you'd expect.

Elaine Halligan of the Parent Practice said: "I absolutely get why they are doing it — it's because children do need to be protected from technology. But to get the social services involved is an absolute disaster, because it starts telling parents that we don't trust you to be responsible for your children."

What do you think?

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This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour from the British isles.


    "it starts telling parents that we don’t trust you to be responsible for your children.”
    I don't know how games are rated in the UK but that's how it is presently here.
    Also many of the schools campaigning for this are primary schools, it is definitely some form of neglect if parents are letting under 12s play games restricted for adults. Though not to a taking children away extent.

    Last edited 31/03/15 12:07 pm

      I agree. As a new parent myself with another due in a few months, and a gamer for the last 25+ years, there is no way I will let my kids play R18+ games. They are rated that for a reason. Sure some of them could be knocked down to MA15+ but either way primary school kids should not be playing these games.

        CBF reading all replies but saw enough to see a number of readers agree with this. That is sad.

        As always, the lazy and what I call "part-time" parents will ruin it for everyone.

        I am a 40yr old father of three (12, 9 & 3). With my blessing they have played Dead Island (and Riptide), a couple of CoD titles, Far Cry 3 and 4. GTA is generally taboo, though I'd be lying if I said my 9yr old son had not played it ever.

        The difference is we game together and I choose what they will be allowed to play. But it has to be really nasty before I ban something. In addition to playing through SP campaugns, the three of us coop in DI and FC3 and play MP games of FC4 and CoD.

        The only time my boy has played GTA is when I have let him and it is only to to a particular mission or minigame he thought was cool and I was ok with.

        I would fight this tooth and nail were something similar introduced here.

        After all I am sick of my kids being exposed to excessive marketing of gambling services and apps. Can we do something on that?

          I would hate for something like that to be introduced here but parents need to be better educated and understand that R18+ is not ok for kids rather than just "No worries Jimmy you can have that R18+ game, after all it is only a video game" And yes I know parents that have that mentality.
          What your kids play is up to you in the end, and so it should be. But no way in hell are my kids going to play any game where they shoot people until they are teenagers. Unless of course they play it elsewhere.

          This - you're a cool dad and your kids will probably not be delinquent because you're a part of their life. The issue is not violent video games, it's having good parental role models. We all know there is NO link between violent video games and real world violence, so this is a ridiculous rule. Good luck to them, it won't change a damn thing for the better.

          And secondly - you're dead on with the gambling/marketing in apps (or indeed apps that have the gambling/reward functionality as a core part of the game such as Clash of Clans)

      Pretty much this.. and from what I've witnessed, the parents that are allowing their children to partake are not gamers themselves and have had very minimal exposure to video games in general. They need to have a three strike system where education of the parent is the first step, then a counselling session maybe to be had with the school guidance counselor (or similar) that involves the parents and the child.. and then after all else fails, only then should it become a matter for anything further..... and even then, I think it's lazy to put the burden on the state for something the committee wants to take action on themselves.

      It's like having you declared bankrupt because you missed one credit card payment.

      If they're going to expend the energy, rather than going straight to "Neglect!", the school should put that effort into educating parents about what their kids are actually playing. Most will take these games away immediately, and the few that don't probably need a good talking to from an 'adult' (social services).

      One of my friends is a primary school teacher (Year 3 at the time). Some of her kids and their school-aged siblings were playing GTA V.

      When I told her what was in it (eg: when you first meet Trevor, the torture scene, etc) she was pretty shocked. When she told this to the parents of her kids, they were mortified. The parents just didn't know, and the kids were using the old "it's not that bad" and "all my friends are playing it" lines to great effect. A lot of tiny tykes had their GTA's taken off them after that.

      Parents educated, kids safe. Easy win.

        I wasn't saying that its like 'neglect' in the super serious form, but that it is somewhat neglectful to not take interest in what your child may be playing that has an adults only sticker on the cover with the themes listed. If parents can understand that you don't give your child a movie that has an R18+, they should perfectly understand the same concept applies to games.

          Sorry, that 'Neglect' comment was aimed at the article, not you. I totally agree with what you wrote :)

        I agree that while it is neglectful, it's not "Family Services" neglectful.

        What would be useful is a site with a list of video clips: "If you let your children play THIS game, THIS is what they will be seeing." For GTA5 that would include the torture scene and maybe some of the hooker transactions.

        I don't have any kids, so I don't have any right to tell people how they should raise their children... but as a member of society, I would really not have parents training the psychopaths of tomorrow.

    I'm all for getting parents to take more notice of what their kids are doing, but this is taking it to a fucking absurd level...

    Next lets just install cameras into everyone's houses to make sure nobody is lying about what their kids are doing. Better to be safe, right?

    Last edited 31/03/15 12:09 pm

    Could we see the _local industry_ one day seriously entertain something like this, rather than a hasty government mandate that's poorly introduced?

    Obviously not a direct copy of the Nantwich Education Partnership, but self-regulation would be mutually benefiical for all, wouldn't it?

    I've always seen the new R18+ rating as necessary for game publishers to continue doing business in this country rather than simply being a protection for minors against unsuitable media.

    Hell, look at Hotline MIami 2, by all accounts a poorer game but the "ban" was probably a good thing for the game's PR. How many of you got sucked in? Saint's Row 4 and South Park come to mind as well, on the outside they are "disappointed" but really they were popping champagne.

    I can totally imagine the local chart-toppers (all of them MA or R18) remaining there because little johnny and suzie are still getting their hands on them somehow. Same reason Minecraft never gets knocked out of the top ten charts.

      Hotline Miami 2 'by all accounts a poorer game'? I must have imagined that it was basically the same game as Hotline Miami 1, which was great. I was never 'sucked in' either, I'd wager many people like myself had every intention of playing the second game well before the ban made waves.

      And on that topic... Didn't the Hotline guys themselves pretty much say the OFLC made shit up regarding that ban? Something along the lines of how content the OFLC claims was the offending issue didn't actually exist if I recall.

      Not quite something I'd hold up as a glowing example of regulation myself.

        The content definitely existed it, they just felt it was judged incorrectly due to a knee jerk reaction. The character rapes someone in a non-interactive section, which is immediately followed by the reveal that it was just a movie shoot full of actors and not an actual bloody massacre. It's not glorified, it's clearly not meant to arouse the player, and it's about three frames of animation on stylised retro SNES level sprites.
        While technically correct the report failed to mention that stuff which the developers felt really blew the entire thing out of proportion.

    Went to get something from EB the other day. Dude was there with 2 young kids (sub 10). He asks which PS4 bundle was the best, store clerk says he should go with the GTA bundle. He knew the console was for the kids, but didn't bat an eye.

      Really. Sheesh, that is terrible service

        Service was excellent! But not sure I would be as keen to sell that game to 8 year olds. Then again commissions and sales targets would probably through any ounce of 'ethics' I have right out the window.

      Might want to talk to the employee's manager. That's the stuff that is strictly against store policy and you can get fired for.

    It's funny because the game in that censored image is MA15 here.

      And on top of that is the fact that even pixellated it is still kind of graphic.

    Why is it just kids? It might not be 'neglect', but the AU Govt deems it unsuitable for me to play the likes of Hotline Miami or Manhunt. If I lived in WA, it'd be illegal for me to own them. The comparison would be some do-gooder group reporting me for abuse or a sex-crime (trafficking abusive porn).

    I'd also love to see the first case of this go to court in the UK. I think drawing up a case of neglect is a bit of a long bow. I think the Prime Minister secretly survives on a diet of red-headed babies and roast puppy, but saying so, even with a group of like-minded mates, doesn't make it true.

    Are we sure Jack Thompson isn't holidaying in the UK from Florida?

    How about they pay more attention to children who turn up to school without the adequate resources that indicate a good home life?

      They can do both. Meanwhile, they are also looking out for suspicious bruising and stories that could indicate abuse at home. They can do all three!

    In defense of the movement they are formed of primary schools.
    I'm probably in the minority but I agree that letting a primary school kid play CoD or other 18+ games is neglectful. If the parents are there with them and monitoring it because they fell their son/daughter is mature enough to deal with both the game and the social interaction then fine.
    But how many of these are buying it for the kid who is then off on their own playing a game, and socialising with adults without supervision.

    There's more to parenting than restricting access to games. I had access to adult games (and I mean some were actually adult games) from a very early age. Surprisingly didn't turn into a psychopath, most likely because the rest of the parenting was alright.

    I'm on the fence about this one. Do I think calling CPS is overkill? Probably, but if the parents aren't going to do anything about it, someone has to.

    I take responsibility to ensure my nephew doesn't access age-inappropriate content when in my company. Does he still access it? Absolutely. Would I be upset if the police knocked on the doors of those who let him? Nope. Would I want them to be restricted from seeing him, or be required to have supervised access? Well, no. I guess it will be interesting to see how heavy handed the response would be. Anyone got more details on this?

    I don't think it's necessarily tantamount to neglect. But if you're going to be a lazy, or otherwise irresponsible parent/guardian then don't be surprised when other people step in.

      It's illegal to give restricted material to minors. If they get it on their own then nobody gave it to them.

    Ok, anyone who signs that is stupid, their is a thing called call of duty eSports, eSports is becoming an official sport and MANY kids 14+ are trying to practice to one day become MLG Pro as their life carrect, it would ruin many kids future as we pore our hearts and souls into it, for people like me that's all we have to live for, I swear I will probably die if this happens so.... Yea

      What does that even say? You can't event spell "Jonathan" correctly, you are such a parent

    1984 by Orson Welles was meant to be fiction, not a "How to" guide!

    Having been born in Cheshire im very surprised to see this come out from such a small place (Nantwich still has cobbled stone streets and Victorian era buildings)

    To all those having a cry about the government raising our kids or that the schools should say out of it, lets just swap out the whole "video games" part and replace what they're doing with drinking booze, smoking cigs or getting all their holes filled out by the swim team. Is this something you think the school should maybe raise with the parents? Drinking, smoking and fucking are all in the same 18+ category, so why should this be any different?

      Because it is not ILLEGAL to allow a child to play a game outside of their rating.

      It is illegal to supply smokes and alcohol, and as for f*cking - totally different kettle of fish.

        If it is RESTRICTED material, is illegal to give it to a minor. Alcohol, cigarettes, porn, guns and any other restricted material should never be given to a minor, same with RESTRICTED games.
        Giving an R18+ game to anyone under 18 is illegal, giving MA15+ to an under 13 (or thereabout's, cant remember the exact details) is illegal.

    I think this is needed, 18+ games are for over 18's for a reason. They should have no part in a Childs development. Especially if they're in primary school, I hope Australia adopts this law all around.

      We already have this law and teachers already have the requirement to report things like this as a mandatory reporter. Giving restricted material to a minor is illegal and can be abuse (or someone giving restrcited material to a minor can be an indicator of that adult abusing them, as predators use this aterial to groom kids), so teachers must report it.

    I'm OK with this... primary school aged children are all under the age of 12... why on earth should they be playing stuff like GTA 5 and seeing that content when they dont even understand how basic thing like idk... puberty work.

    What if game covers would have an external wrapper, saying something like a HUGE R18+ warning on the front of it? Kind of like how cigarette packets now have that cover, except it would only be the front wrapper, leaving the real game cover intact inside. Just to really point out to parents or any other adult considering buying those kinds of games for kids to have a little bit more awareness of the content of the game? Like a black wrapping around the case saying R18+ so when adults actually hold it, they see only the title and the rating.

      I would've thought it was obvious but I'm starting to think that not a lot of people really know what R18+ means. Maybe "ADULTS ONLY" might help?

    Some people are saying this is over the top and crazy, but I am inclined to agree with it.

    Nowhere does it actually say that the children will be taken away, just the social services will be contacted, which likely involves a lot of counselling before any children are taken away.

    Honestly it may not be the perfect solution, but this is miles better than:
    "If under age kids are playing R18 games, then it's the games fault for existing. Ban the games!"

    I much prefer to see parents copping some consequences for not doing, you know, 'parenting'.

    No, this is overkill. There isn't any scientific proof to date which actually PROVES any video game is harmful to children or adults. It is a long held assumption. Nothing more. Saying it is neglectful to allow kids to play 18+ games is an entirely subjective statement - not all kids are affected in the same way. Parents know far more about their child than some nanny-state organization which thinks calling CPS or the Police over a video game is appropriate or worth Police resources.

    The government needs to butt out of affairs within the home. Child abuse, smoking cigs or drinking alcohol has long been proven to be harmful to a child both physically and mentally. Video games aren't even in the same ballpark. This entire thing is laughable and disgusting at the same time. Taking kids away from parents over a video game is cruel, invasive and completely deplorable. ironically, if anything, these "authorities" are the neglectful bunch.

    Gamers harp on and on about over-regulation but then they say how they support THIS? Hypocrisy at it's finest. Ratings should only ever be used as advise, I don't give two shits about what the government thinks is appropriate. I know my kids and I KNOW what is appropriative for them. These people who stick their nose into everybody's business DO NOT! Period. I downloaded Hotline Miami 2 from PSN and Saints Row IV. I have no time for government bureaucrats dictating what I, or my kids are exposed to in media. They need to piss off and stop thinking they have the right to shove their assumptions and views down our throats.

    Geez. Parents just can't win.
    Let your child walk home from school alone and you get charged with neglect.
    Let your child play games where they learn how to survive on the mean streets where every stranger is running a child smuggling ring and you get charged with neglect.

    As a primary teacher and a gamer I support this. When GTA5 was released *so many* of my 10-12yr old students were playing it. I love games and I have no problem with 18+ games, but I have an issue with kids who haven't reached puberty playing such explicitly adult games. There is a huge problem with parents not worrying enough about what their kids are interacting with to check whether it is suitable. From my experience having discussions with parents, their response is usually "games are for kids thus they are all benign". This is ignorant and neglectful in my opinion.

    tl:Dr I support anything which means parents are expected to parent their kids.

      As a teacher as well, I'd say more is needed. This is a knee-jerk reaction and will likely only serve as a cautionary tale for media teachers in a few years because of how little foresight we showed. I have children I've found to have been playing both GTA and Assassin's Creed and despite not being entirely comfortable with younger kids playing these games, I would struggle to actually find an "issue" that was caused by this beyond myself feeling uncomfortable. Quite the contrary, AC3 was actually used as a catalyst for a constructive discussion about the representation of race across different forms of media.

      Yeah, "games are for kids", "they all play them", not even acknowledging the content your kids are consuming - it's all ignorant and neglectful, not just in opinion but by definition. To this end, I believe the answer is education and not force (similar to the way we teach kids to read and write using different strategies depending on the class makeup as opposed to taping books to their faces). I would say the statement "I support anything which means parents are expected to parent their kids." is slightly ignorant as well since, obviously I could say a parent who doesn't know about game content isn't parenting their kids (like you are) but they might fire back saying I don't know about fixing cars or CPR and if you don't, does that make you a bad parent too? Enough so that you should be reported to child services? What about movies? Music? How about those encrypted download files they have on the computer? Is everyone who doesn't do this failing to parent their children? I'd hope not, since this is entirely unreasonable. I mean, how do we actually weigh the importance of any of these without succumbing to gross prejudice?

      Parents need to educate themselves on the matter. Certain games are not suitable for children, obviously, but media is an incredibly important part of our society today and we're reacting to all these changes in technology with repulsion and judgement instead of education and cognitive thinking.

      Last edited 31/03/15 4:16 pm

    My parents were somewhat strict of what I could and could not play for quite sometime. When Left 4 Dead 2 came out I really wanted it and I think I was only 14-15 when it was released and at this stage I was already a pretty big gamer. I wasn't really into Online games too much and hadn't really played many violent games and when my birthday came around I asked for it, showed them the trailer and they said no and you know what, I was annoyed for roughly a day. Then I got over it and I think I just ended up playing a fuck tonne of Sheep Tag on Warcraft 3 because I realised it was stupid to get mad over wanting to play a game that I am obviously too young to play.

    What I am trying to get at is. Parents need to learn to say no. They need to see what their kids are playing. It has become a norm for kids to play anything these days. Ratings don't seem to mean ANYTHING at all these days and it gives me the shits.

    Last night when playing CS:GO I had 2 little kids on my team saying fuck this and fuck that and although I have heard it plenty of times before. It really bothered me that they speak this way and act so damn rude especially when they are so young. It corrupts them and it saddens me.

      If only they saw the Australian version of the game...

        Haha yeah, even still. I think it was to do more of just mindless slaughter of zombies.

    I'm 27 years old... I've watched porn... I'm allowed too, I'm old enough for that to be ok, if I allowed my 10 year child to watch porn, porn that I had bought for him, I would be a child sex offender. Showing your children games made for adults is neglect.

    Last edited 31/03/15 5:42 pm

    As a non-parent-for-life I feel I don't really get a say on parenting matters, but I sure would love the option to not hear anyone in voice chat that is under 18.

    I really, really wish that tick box existed on all my gaming platforms.

    Kind of off topic, I'm sorry.

    Last edited 31/03/15 5:59 pm

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