Safer Children in a Digital World – The Byron Report

News fresh out of the UK today is the Bryon Report – an in-depth assessment of the challenges facing government and industry to make the digital world safer for children. This review was commissioned by the PM (Mr Brown) himself and produced by Dr Tanya Bryon, a Clinical Psychologist.

Although the report focuses more on console gaming (key recommendation is to overhaul the video game rating), there is a dedicated section for Online Gaming, covering off virtual worlds and MMORG’s. This section breaks out the risks associated with kids interacting with online environments but also details several benefits of this emerging sector.

Risks associated with online gaming

  • Content.Both static (commercial developers) and UGC.
  • Contact. Giving away personal details.
  • Conduct. Abusive or threatening behavior.

Benefits associated with online gaming

  • Rather than isolating and alienating, the report suggests that online gaming enables greater sociability.
  • Quote: ‘One of the reasons I enjoy playing video games online, is that I can interact with people from all over the world and make friends. Most online games have groups of players working together to complete objectives, which can improve team and leadership skills, or just for socialising while playing the game. Some of my best friends are online ones.’
  • Learning potential. Online gaming is an important part of the lives of many children with specific accessibility needs.

Recommendations from the report (a summary)

  • Creation of a single set of standards to manage the risks.
  • A sharing of expertise between the emerging online gaming sector and existing social networking/UGC sites.
  • Awareness raising, age verification, risk informing.
  • Player responsiblity, reporting, excessive use management and monitoring.

It’s a big report (226 pages) but worth a read if this impacts your business (or in fact your children). Here’s a download link.

Image courtesy of ‘Safer children in a digital world: The report of the Bryon review’.