Not only can they access games on their computer, they are able to download, either free of charge or for a small fee, games onto Smartphones or tablets. It is very easy to spend many hours playing games. As a person strives to achieve a higher level in the game, so they become addictive.
There are risks associated with interacting with other players they do not know:
It is all too easy to get engrossed in games such as Warcraft and Runescape. These are avatar based games in which you are able to role play in an environment where there is an emphasis on playing with other people and aims to build on character development as well as progression on to the next level.
Runescape is free to download and play which is one of its attractions to young people. Games played in the virtual world offer young people an escape from the real world and create a world that in the physical world would be out of bounds or impossible to explore. Identities can be altered so you can never be sure if the person you are playing online with is who they say they are.
Young people also play games that are meant for an older age group and games with violent content that are classified for over 18’s. The classification is clearly stated on the packaging but this is often ignored – yet it is there for a reason. The Pan American Gaming Information (PEGI) label appears on all computer and video games indicating the age level of the game you are purchasing and provides an indication of the suitability of the content of the game in terms of safeguarding and protecting younger players.
Also included on the gaming packaging are descriptors which are symbols such as bad language, drugs, gambling, and violence give an indication of what is included in the content of the game. More information on PEGI labels can be found at www.pegi.info.
Most games that young people are playing are above their age level and intended for an older audience who can not only expose them to bad language, sex scenes and violence but also exposes them to older people who assume that the person they are playing with is the correct age as described on the games labelling. This has the potential to introduce young people to older adults who are far more experienced in playing games than they are and places them at risk of being groomed or bullied and due to lack of experience, they may get involved in a situation that they do not know how to get out of. Levels of games are set for a reason and it is advisable to take note of them in order to safeguard young people.