Dr. Byron Checks in on Her Report Two Years Later

Two years after the release of the UK’s Byron Report, Dr. Tanya Byron has weighed in with a follow up which details the progress made towards ensuring the digital safety of children.

In kicking off her review of progress to-date (PDF), Byron wrote, “In the last two years there has been significant progress on improving children’s digital safety which I am pleased to highlight in this report.”

In reference to videogames, Byron called the progress made since 2008 “significant,” specifically citing three aspects:

•  work to establish a clearer system for the age classification of video games;
•  robust legislation which makes it possible for retailers to be prosecuted for the sale of age-restricted products to underage children; and
•  improved adherence to advertising guidelines by video games publishers.

Given the growth of videogames since her 2008 report, Byron suggested that videogame representatives should be given priority when it came to filling vacancies on the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) executive board.

Byron also recommended that the UKCCIS commission a report on whether or not a “code of conduct” is needed for the online and casual games market. The report is due in September 2010.

Byron proposes that the UKCCIS board commission the videogame industry and “other working groups,” to:

•  decide whether we need minimum standards for parental controls, for example clear, understandable set up procedures, password protection;
•  examine whether there should be an independent review process for parental control standards; and
•  work with the public awareness working group to ensure that awareness of video gaming parental controls is included in the UKCCIS public awareness campaign.

It was further suggested by Byron, that, upon PEGI becoming the sole videogame rating system in the UK, that the industry, retailers and the government invest in raising public awareness of PEGI.

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  1. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    While I agree in amounts of harm, a game is much more expensive and lasts you longer than a pack of cigarettes and alcohol. Plus games are bought in lesser amounts, so the amount of fines per bad sales could be equal, yet the amount of fines per profit is way less. As such, I consider equal fines at the least more fair, not based on harm, but on prevention and to set an example. The fines should convince you not to break the law since you expect to come out in the red on average. The harm-factor is why I don’t think they should be far greater.

  2. 0
    State says:

    But don’t children have a right to freedom of experience? If there is such an important need for children to have access to all sorts of speech for some reason (to help them develop their own morality? I don’t know), then surely the thoughts and ideas gained from the experience of drinking or smoking are also important.

  3. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    I don’t think they even deserve the same level of fines. If you are going to make that kind of law (which I don’t think should even happen) the fines for selling a game to a minor should be far less than selling alcohol or tobacco to a minor.

    It should be based on quantitative damage to the minor if consumed. Since alcohol and tobacco have known physical harmful effects, that should far outweigh the presumed mental harmful effects of games.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
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  4. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    I wasn’t arguing that games are as bad as alcohol and cigarettes. What I was arguing that IF you have a law prohibiting the sale of M-rated games (or 18+ with PEGI), then enforcing that should be similar to enforcing laws regarding other products, such as those for cigarettes and booze. By treating them as equals in fines and enforcement, you also allow shops to use equal approach to guarantee IDs are properly checked. I don’t think games should be dealt with more strict than stuff like selling booze to a 14yo.

  5. 0
    Bigman-K says:

    I’d still say there is a huge difference between things like alcohol and cigerettes, what with thier proven harmful physical effects esspecially on those whos bodies are still forming and changing and Free Speech media such as video games that have the capability to express ideas, information, messages, opinions and viewpoints as well as form those things in all of us.

    I’m a firm believer that minors perticularily older minors and teenagers deserve full Free Speech rights and should have the ability to seek out and get ahold of media that they wish to watch, play, read or listen to. I believe censorship even for minors is still censorship all the same and nothing more then an indirect form of state based thought and mind control. It could leave their minds a blank and they could be uneqipped to deals with the real world as we know it which isn’t all sunshine, lolipops and rivers of cotton candy. If anything the real world out there is so much worse, more brutally violent, distrubing and obscene then any book, movie, video game or song could ever achieve to be. Young children like those still in their single digit age brackets are a different matter but they don’t seem to seek out such media so i think that’s a moot point.

     "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  6. 0
    State says:

    Not sure what the rules are currently for game classification (do publishers still have to go to the BBFC for certain games?) since the findings were published.

    I’ve seen many games go to the BBFC to get a certificate instead of PEGI recently (because isn’t the BBFC logo better advertising than the PEGI logo) and with Mass Effect 2 the BBFC gave it a 15 (and that was a push as they said it pretty much deserved a 12 certificate if it weren’t for the swearing) whilst PEGI gave an 18.

    I still have a lot of issues over how PEGI rate their games, Mass Effect 2 deserves the same certificate as Manhunt 2?

  7. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    I was thinking more of the code of conduct of casual games market, like the way that are they starting to place a code of conduct on developers freedoms of expression in their games?

    I was not worried about the online stuff because users can get kicked out, I was more thinking on the developers view point from their perspective.


  8. 0
    Zalethon says:

    "… understanding that it is the parents who make the decisions and not the laws on how they want to raise their kids and stuff like that."

    Something about this line has never sat right with me. On the surface I agree, but it can be taken to far too many logical extremes to call it true.

    "Also don’t like the ‘çode of conduct’ for online and casual games market, manily because code of conduct is a waste of time considering it is only used when people know there is no way they can legislate into law."

    I don’t understand what you mean by this. The closest I can gather is that you think the code of conduct on a particular online game is a waste of time because there’s no way to ensure that everyone follows it? Any online game is private property, in the same way a mall is. The owner and administrators can kick you out, (in some cases with no refund) based on the contract you signed, (terms of use etc) any time they want to. The reason the code of conduct is there is really to minimize controversy, and possibly to act as a guide for future action: it details the usual circumstances of a person’s banning.

  9. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    Personally I’d say that if you makes laws against it (and I’m not taking a stand here on whether that’s wrong), it should at least be comparable to laws against selling cigarettes and alcohol to minors. I don’t know what the fine is for selling heavy booze (18yo required in my country) to a 16yo, but I’d say games should be comparable.

    Hey, if it’s a law, then you can in fact demand ID. The supermarkets here even started an ad campaign when they switched to "16+ requires you to ID if you’re guestimated under 20. 18+ if guestimated under 25". Do the same with video games and there’s no problem.

    Interesting part, though. I think that in many countries/states they can say "you’re trying to buy this for a minor, so no" when cigs/booze are involved, and it can even be illegal to try to buy it for a minor. Wonder if the same could be done with games, thus making it illegal for a parent to be all "I’m buying this M-game for 12yo Billy here".

  10. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    Well, I think the good points are for the government to raise awareness of the PEGI and being fully supportive of the Videogame Industry, but really…trying to prosicute people who sell games that are 18 to someone who is really 17 or 16???

    I don’t like the look of making laws against people who might make a mistake once in a while because someone who was looks older than 18 was in fact 17 or 16 makes it a crime or such, also is there anything about that a parent has a right to purchase a game for their kids even though they may not take much note of the rating?

    I just don’t like it how they have laws that get the games retailer in trouble while not considering that the actural parent might also be a fault too.


    Dr Byron does a good job, but I just feel there is something important that is missing from her comments, like understanding that it is the parents who make the decisions and not the laws on how they want to raise their kids and stuff like that.


    Also don’t like the ‘çode of conduct’ for online and casual games market, manily because code of conduct is a waste of time considering it is only used when people know there is no way they can legislate into law.


  11. 0
    chadachada321 says:

    THAT is Dr. Byron?

    …Wow, she’s quite the looker. I’m not even into older women, but dang.

    -Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

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