SA parents don’t pay attention to age restrictions on video games – FPB
Cape Town – Recent findings by the Film and Publication Board (FPB) have found that parents don’t pay attention to the age restrictions on the videos games their children play.
This was one of many discoveries made when the FPB presented it’s Convergence Survey findings in which over over 7 000 respondents participated from across the nine provinces of the country and representing the spectrum of age, race, income and education level.
The FPB is the media content regulator for South Africa and its mandate is to regulate the creation, production and distribution of films, games and certain publications.
The quantitative survey, which is conducted every two years, is aimed at establishing an alignment between the norms and values of South Africans with the content classification ratings assigned by the FPB.
Dr Kambidima Wotela, who is a senior lecturer at Wits University, and also is involved at the FPB, said that while their were other more advanced means to conduct the survey, they felt that a quantitative approach was better suited.
“Like any other surveys they’re mostly quantitative because we want to know the extent, and in some cases the significance of some of the issues that we’re dealing with.”
The FBP’s acting chief executive, Abongile Mashele explained that the survey set out to achieve four things:
- To establish the levels of awareness among adults about what content children in their care are exposed to.
- Public knowledge about the FPB’s ratings system and recourse to challenge these ratings.
- How closely caregivers apply the ratings assigned to content regulated by the FPB when choosing what to allow children to consume.
- Whether the public endorses the role played by the FPB as a content regulator.
The Convergence Survey found that television is the medium where the adults surveyed spent the most time supervising content consumption of young children, this is then followed by online media.
According to the survey parents are, however, largely absent when it comes to their children’s consumption of music concerts on DVD and video games.
The FPB said this corroborates an earlier study conducted with the University of South Africa’s Bureau for Market Research in 2015, which showed that parents, although they purchased video games for their children, are unaware of the age ratings assigned for video games.
The study found that children as young as 10 years old were listing games rated as high as 18 among their favourites.
“This is alarming considering that the elements interrogated by FPB content classifiers when assigning this 18 rating includes graphic violence and strong language,” said Mashele.
Mashele said other studies have demonstrated a positive, even though not causal, relationship between frequent exposure to violent media content and a tendency to violent behaviour.
The survey also found that parents use the age restrictions shown to decide which programmes their children can watch, while those who can access broadcast satellite television, such as DSTV, make use of the parental control capability.
“This is confined, however, to those families that can afford pay platforms, whereas the majority of poor households have limited access to this option,” the FPB said.
“Predictably, the results echo the racial inequalities inherited from the apartheid era, with 45% of black respondents reporting using this option, compared to 71.2% through to 87.3% of other racial groups.
“The proportion of adults reporting ignorance of age rating guidelines for television content, although minimal, is statistically significant and a cause for concern. Larger proportions in KwaZulu Natal (45.5%), North West (44.3%), and Limpopo (41,4 %) report not being aware of television 'viewership' guidelines,” the FPB said.
“When it comes to DVDs, the large majority of adults in the Western Cape and Northern Cape Provinces report using the FPB’s age ratings as displayed on the covers of DVDs to determine what content their children can watch (89.4% and 73. 8% respectively).”
Mashele said that the survey also found that the public endorses the existence of the FPB as a regulator of films, games and certain publications.
“A clear outcome, however, is that more needs to be done by the FPB to raise awareness about our work, the ratings system and the impact of media on society if we are to see a culture of adherence to ratings aimed at protecting vulnerable citizens and society broadly,” said Mashele.