Euro Parliament: Online Games Should Have a “Red Button” for Parents

Parents need a "red button" to quickly disable online games that are inappropriate for their children, according to a press release just issued by the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee. 

Parents should have a "red button" to disable a game they feel is inappropriate for their child, says the EP Internal Market Committee… Until PEGI on-line is up and running, the report proposes fitting consoles, computers or other game devices with a "red button" to give parents the chance to disable a game or control access at certain times.

Hey, why wait for development of a red button? Wouldn’t the old-school on-off switch work just as well?

On the up side, the EP acknowledges that games can have recreational, educational and even medical value, but the organization wants to equip parents with more tools to pick the games best suited for their children. The EP is also solidly behind the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) rating system:

Different approaches to strengthening control of video games should be explored, argues the committee, but it does not propose specific EU legislation. MEPs believe Member States should ensure their national rating systems do not lead to market fragmentation. Harmonisation of labelling rules would be of help. Member States should also agree on a common system based solely on PEGI.

While the EP specifically states that it does not want to "demonize" video games, it does have concerns about:

  • online games
  • game violence
  • Internet cafes

UPDATE: Reuters has more…

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  1. timada says:

    This is for the best, video games brought in shops are at least rated and can’t be sold to people under the age rating but online games have always escaped this. And I know there are some really violent ones out there that would never be allowed to be released in shops.

  2. Karsten Aaen says:



    I thought, as other have been pointing out that online games allready did have a red button…

    It is callled ‘parental control’ in both windows XP, Vista and Vindows 7, too. Also, Xbox Live do have a button where people, yes even parents, can set up the child’s Xbox so that they don’t play certain games they’re not allowed to play…Or they can limit the time, or even block out other people? from talking to the child…

    And the ultimate red button is of course – the on/off button…

    People really need to do something very old school…

    start parenting again…




  3. Miang says:

    I think what annoys me is the idea that business has a responsibility to make life easier for parents. In my opinion there is absolutely nothing out there that says parenting should be easy. It shouldn’t. It should be the most difficult, time consuming, important tast in a person’s life. If an individual chooses to have kids they should go into it knowing they have made a commitment to a difficult job and one that will require them to devote time and effort into it. They should realize that no matter what the rest of the world chooses to do they will still have a responsibility to their children. Isn’t that after all what it is supposed to mean to be a parent? They should know that far from getting easier as time goes in this is a task that will probably get harder as technolgoy develops. People don’t think through what it means to have children and so we get parents who believe that their "burden" should be lightened by everyone else. Well, guess what. It’s not everyone else’s responsibility.

    I’m also sick of this attitude from so many parental groups (please understand I’m not lobbing all parents into this; my rant is very narrow and specifically targeted at lazy, incompentant people and their polititican friends) that the very fact of being a parent makes them special. They love their children. They want to protect them. It’s so hard in the world today. Please. They need to grow up and realize that most parents love their children. The ones who actually take the time to be involved in their childrens lives even prove that they love their children by living up to their responsibilities. For to many people "I love my kids" has become something they can say to make themselves feel good or even so that they can play the victim: "I love my kids, please help me protect them from the evil corporations who are (insert video games, advertizements, or anything else that strikes the public’s fancy as threat of the moment here)".

    In our culture we see having kids as a right but we don’t really demand that our citizens live up to the responsibility that goes with it. In essence that’s where the whole video game debate comes from. How many people out there have kids because they want to validate their own lives? How many have them because they want to be loved or fill a void in their own lives?  How many have them just because they can or because their parents pester them for grandchildren? Now, how many people think about what having children will mean before hand and have an idea of what they will do when they actually have kids? It’s these different attitudes that spawn either irresponsibility or responsibility. We’ve been told that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, if the village is raising the child doesn’t that give the parent an excuse to step out?

    Sorry, I guess I’m just annoyed today. Please forgive the rant.

  4. mogbert says:

    I think all of you are missing the ACTUAL danger. I think parents should have a big red button that prevents their computer from becoming sentient and carniverous and eating their children. Then we can go around and push the button every night, secure in the knowledge that the computer won’t eat our children.

    Then New York can pass legislation that every computer and console have a red button to keep the computer from eating our children and Ohio can pass legislation that if a computer manufactuer advertises that it’s computer won’t eat your children, you can sue them if the computer DOES actually eat your children.

  5. G-Meister says:

    What if you forget to give it back? Or you just get lazy and stop doing it after a particularly difficult work week? Or you want to play, after you’ve taken the power cord away?

    Don’t think of this as what your knee-jerk reaction to a single game would be, think about what you would want your long term strategy as a parent to be.

    Also, if you have a souless machine carrying out your will, that means it’s going to be very good at being consistent. And don’t quote me on this, but I believe one of the Aspects of good parenting is consistency in your decisions.

  6. G-Meister says:

    What it looks like the EU is suggesting is that Parental Controls should be expanded, that way you can disable on-line play or only allow it during certian time frames, (like when a parent is home) or even for specific games if you so choose. It’s not saying, "Let’s add a really cool big red button to consoles that powers them down."

    If I ever spawn, I know I would like to be able to easily utilize controls like this, in addition to many of the controls that already exist.

  7. Jyrrah says:

    It’s really really simple. Just take the power cord away. You don’t even have to mess with the router in this case.

  8. reverandspaniel says:

    This is just ridiculous…family controls have been on consoles for a few years now and on/off switches have been there forever! Parents don’t care/understand what content is actually in mature rated games. It takes 5 minutes to set up a child’s Xbox Live account with Parental Controls.

    However, the MAJORITY of parents have no idea that these controls even exist, and those that do still don’t care or are too technologically retarded to know how to use them. But yet they cry out that their children are being exposed to violent/sexual/gory content when they can’t even be bothered to get their lazy a$$es off the sofa and take an interest in their child’s life!

  9. SimonBob says:

    Given all the reasonable solutions offered on these comments, you have to wonder what exactly the EPIMC was thinking.  Obviously, all of the potential applications of a "red button" are already available to consoles and computers alike.  And it’s hard to argue that they’re underinformed, given that they were generally praiseful of games and dug up the statistic setting the average Euro gamer’s age to 33.  The only reason a company would add a function like this would be as a facelift of the technology that was already present — in other words, as a marketing move.  So why is the EPIMC coming up with advertising strategies for companies?  If I were Microsoft, I’d be adding the phrase "red button" to all of my ad copy right now; it’s the catchiest turn of phrase I’ve ever heard for parental controls!

    The Mammon Industry

  10. robbway says:

    There is a red button, literally, on my TV remote.  It is labeled "Power on/off."  It decisively stops the game giving you time to eject the game.  Why people don’t know this is amazing.

  11. gamegod25 says:

    "Parents should have a "red button" to disable a game they feel is inappropriate for their child"

    Yeah we already have one of those, it’s called the ****ing off button!

  12. Sai says:

    Hey here’s an idea, how about parents learn to be responsible and research the games and game consoles their children want to own, find out all the information they need about ratings, game content and parental controls, and talk to the parents of their kids’ friends to make sure they’re on the same page about what video games they deem approrpirate for their child?


    You know. PARENTING?

  13. Archgabe says:

    Is the concept of a on/off switch that all electronic systems come with too complicated for these people?  It is the thing that has the circle with the line in it or it may have the thing that looks like "l/O".  Fiddle with that and I can assure you it will turn off.  Not that tough.  It may even say "OFF" on it.  Not that hard.

    If you are still having issues with this, ask the kid to show you how to turn it off.  If you are that stupid then they cant be that much further than you.

  14. TBoneTony says:

    Read button???


    Do these people know that there are ratings on Videogames and Parental Controls????

    Also when it comes to online games, pressing the power button off is simple, or even just looking at the ratings on that have their own rating system.

    Seriously, while the Euro Parliament might have their hearts in the right place, they still don’t know anything about Online games.


  15. squigs says:

    The term "red Button" is misleading.  They’re actually talking about a set of controls that allow access only at certain times. 

    So, no, the power switch wouldn’t be as effective.  However, if you don’t know when your kids are playing games and have no control over this, I doubt this would have any effect.

  16. GoodRobotUs says:

    This does, of course, assume the parents are there monitoring their childs game-playing activities in the first place, which would rather mean that a red button wouldn’t be needed…

  17. catboy_j says:

    The issue is partially that there is in effect a "red button". And it’s called Parental control features/watching your children. Parents want to get gps tracking installed on their cars so they know where their kids are all the time but internet cafes are the worry?

  18. Baruch_S says:

    So parents need a red button now? If they can’t/won’t operate the parental controls on the console or PC to begin with, do you really think they can be bothered with installing this red button and learning how to press it? They’re going to need some government official to come and push it for them.

  19. Tony says:

    The red button is 1 line, and I suspect they’re being figurative (eg. they just mean parental controls).

    Their conclusions are actually quite enlightened, for politicians.. I’m surprised GP is so negative about it as it’s saying exactly what they’ve been saying for years:

    eg."Videogames are in most cases not dangerous and can even contribute to the development of important skills," said Toine Manders, the Dutch liberal lawmaker who drafted the report.

    It further challenged received wisdom that such games were chiefly for children, quoting statistics that showed the average age of the European gamer was 33.



  20. Krono says:

    Why is it that politician’s keep coming up with crap like this? Are they that desperate that they need to come up with answers to non-existent problems?

    Or do they think parents that can’t be bothered to monitor what their kids are playing, can’t figure out how to use parental controls, isn’t willing to confiscate and lock up controllers or objectionable games, is going to want and will make use of a glorified on/off switch?


  21. TJLK says:

    I don’t think they should use red because it might insight aggression and violence itself.  As you know red is the color of blood, and if the parent interacts with this red button it may cause them to become violent with their children… So it should be a 50% gray button… with smooth edges… and no audible "click sound".  Safety….

  22. gamadaya says:

    What? I don’t understand this. Like, a physical button? Do we really need that? And what would pushing the button even do? End the current play session? This is just retarded.


    Internet troll > internet paladin

  23. Aliasalpha says:

    In vista they’ve also lifted the ‘allowed logon times’ component from Server 2000/2003 and applied it to parental controls so child accounts can only log on during certain allowed hours. Of course this requires the parent to think ahead and either know something about computers or make the ultimate sacrifice: RTFM…

  24. nighstalker160 says:

    1. You can already configure certain router models to limit access outside of certain times so that takes care of PC’s. (Granted this is a rather cumbersome solution and could definitely be made more streamlined)


    2. Ummm…you want this on consoles? Yeah, see consoles already have this thing called PARENTAL CONTROLS. Learn how to use them (they really aren’t that hard).

  25. G-Meister says:

    I feel this is kind of a natural extension of parental controls, being able control when and how often your kids can play on-line. Not only to make sure they’re actually sleeping (something I wish my parents could have done, in hind sight), but to cut off online gameplay if it proves particularly objectionable.

  26. Aliasalpha says:

    I want one of those USB red buttons but only if I can use it to actually replace the power button.


    I’m also not sure how a red button would protect kids in an internet cafe, is ‘red button’ european slang for hiring a private investigator / nanny to follow the kid around everywhere?


  27. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    "I think someone has been watching too many commercials…ya know, the EASY button."

    Methinks you’ve seen too many Staples advertisements.

    Speaking of Easy Buttons, my dad happens to have one, but doesn’t use it for Staples stuff.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  28. finaleve says:

    Or pulling the plug.  That works too. 

    I think someone has been watching too many commercials…ya know, the EASY button.

  29. DeepThorn says:

    Parents are just getting too lazy to parent, and it is insane the crap they are allow to blame their bad parenting on. 

    There is a power button, you can disconnect the router, you have the parental settings, you can set up the router to not allow the console to connect, you have the internet cord (if it isnt wireless), you have punishing your child for going against what you say, you have not allowing them to have XBL in the first place (or other paid services), you can call the internet provider and cancel the service, you can punish the child by beating their ass (my favorite, and a past time on the receiving end for me), and setting a a reward system where if they do enough, you will not do one of these and allow them to play for a certain amount of time.

    It comes down to one thing though, parenting.  There are 12 red buttons I am seeing so far…

    Nido Web Flash Tutorials AS2 and AS3 Tutorials for anyone interested.
    How to set Xbox 360 Parental Controls

  30. Kincyr says:

    Windows Vista too. Microsoft also provides Windows Live OneCare Family Safety for XP users on top of Content Advisor for Internet Explorer.

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  31. SimonBob says:

    Not if it’s a single-player Flash game (ie. "The Torture Game") and it’s already been preloaded into the browser’s cache.  That’ll stop it from being loaded again, perhaps, but in the meantime it’s up and running until the window is closed.

    The Mammon Industry

  32. InsaneFool says:

    Yeah…its called unplugging the modem and or router. That’ll bring just about any online gaming to a halt pretty quick.

    I wish people would stop trying to get the industry and the government to do the jobs of parents.

  33. tibuka says:

    I cant count the ways you can keep your kids from playing online. If you buy your kid a "game device" you should at least be ready to invest 5 minutes to protect it from adult stuff.

  34. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    "Online Games Should Have a "Red Button" for Parents"

    No, they really shouldn’t. There’s something called "cutting the power" that’s just as effective.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  35. Meohfumado says:

    "Wouldn’t the old-school on-off switch work just as well?"


    Well, on a 360 its only red if you RRoD’d….


    "You know what I wish? I wish all the scum of the Earth had one throat and I had my hands about it."

  36. hellfire7885 says:

    Apparently the opration of a power button is beyond their capabilities too.


    Console makers are not going to add a step fo the manufacturing process because some parent can’t… nay, won’t do their job.

  37. catboy_j says:

    Geesh most online parental control tool thingys pretty much disable online gaming without permission right? Plus you can tamper with the router, there are filters in a lot of games and chats. I don’t understand the "Well Jimmys just so tech smart and even though he has time to learn it with his 7 hours of school, 4 hours of homework, and going out. We work all day and have no time or understanding of this so make it easier!" approach to parenting.

    And WTF is wrong with internet cafes? Watch your damn kids.

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