What the video games sector is doing to support parents during the COVID-19 crisis
With most countries in lockdown and schools closed during the Covid-19 crisis, many will turn to video games to play, to learn, to exercise, and simply to escape our current situation for a while. In many families, children will be turning to video games for entertainment and, importantly, to stay socially connected to their friends. At ISFE we would like to share with players, parents, care givers and teachers some of the resources and video games that are being made available by the video game sector during the Covid-19 crisis, and, importantly, to highlight guidance for parents to make sure everybody stays safe online.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
For parents who may be concerned about what their children are playing and about their screen time, this blog aims to ensure parents are aware of all the tools available to them to control screen-time, in-game spending and privacy, and to provide a list of resources being made available by video games companies to families during the crisis.
5 steps for parents to encourage good game playing behaviour
1. Check the PEGI rating
PEGI (Pan European Game Information) provides age labelling and content descriptors that alert parents to in-game purchases, bad language, violence, frightening content, drugs, sex or discrimination, for example. All major video games and platforms have PEGI ratings as an integral part of their parental controls systems.
You can also use the PEGI App to check the ratings. It allows you to search through the PEGI database for up-to-date video game and app rating classifications. You can filter results by age rating, genre and platform to find your perfect game and get detailed instructions on how to set up parental controls on a range of devices. The app is now available in 9 languages: English, French, Polish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Swedish. You can download the App here: Google Play; Apple Store
NB: The PEGI age rating considers the age suitability of a game’s content, not the level of difficulty.
2. Use the parental controls
All gaming consoles, handheld devices and operating systems for PC and Mac are equipped with parental control systems, allowing parents to protect their children's privacy and online safety. With these control tools, parents can:
- select which games your children are allowed to play (based on the PEGI age ratings)
- control and monitor the use of digital purchases
- limit access to internet browsing by applying a filter
- control the amount of time that children can spend playing games
- control the level of online interaction (chat) and exchange of data (text messages, user-generated content)
For information on how to operate the parental controls on different devices, click on the link for the device your child uses:
Smartphones & tablets
|Microsoft Xbox One||Nintendo 3DS (XL)|| Google Play devices (Android)
iPhone and iPad (iOS)
3. Talk to your child & play with your child
All of our research shows that families that play together and/or take the time to discuss video game play with their children have the healthiest relationship with video game playing, get the most out of it and have the fewest arguments about play time.
Take the opportunity of the lockdown to play together and enjoy your child’s hobby with them.
4. Be fully informed in your local language
Use the resources provided by the national video games trade associations and their partners to be fully informed about safe and responsible game play, to learn about popular video games, games to play as family, tips and guidance.
5. Checkout video games and resources available during this period
Video games companies are doing what they can during the crisis to communicate the Covid-19 safety messaging to their huge global player community and many are also making free games available to players, families and teachers.
This list will be updated regularly:
- Roblox has introduced game design & coding resources for remote learning. This includes a (1) new Teaching Remotely resource which includes over 100 hours of free, ISTE certified content that can be used to teach game design and coding fundamentals in remote learning environments, (2) free Roblox Studio Webinars with lesson plans for educators interested in teaching game development, (3) a new Learn & Explore game sort to provide easy access to more educational experiences for kids and teens on the platform.
- Microsoft has added free educational resources to its Minecraft Marketplace
- Rabbids Coding, a game from Ubisoft teaching kids aged 7 and above the basics of coding: free until the end of April.
- Helping parents find appropriate games for their families: https://taminggaming.com/
- ISFE’s Games in Schools modules for direction on how to use video games for educational purposes
- Digital School House: 10 unplugged activities to teach computing at home with everyday household objects
- Computing at Home with Digital Schoolhouse videos are follow-along videos hosted on YouTube for young learners aged 5 - 11 years, using everyday household objects. Parents, carers and teachers can join in or sit back and supervise.You can subscribe here
- The Polish Association of Entertainment Software Developers and Distributors launched the educational campaign “Playing Teaching” in February. Every month, it provides teachers and parents with new valuable information on how to the use video games in education. Those interested are welcome to register:https://www.spidor.pl/granie-nauczanie/
- Niantic has updated its mobile games Pokemon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite to encourage exercising at home
- Nintendo has provided a free update of its Ring Fit Adventure fitness game for Nintendo Switch which includes new modes to exercise at home while having fun
- Ubisoft will shortly include titles from its Just Dance franchise in its month-long series of offers and free trials. Stay tuned here