New 'Speel Het Slim' Campaign about safe and responsible gaming behaviour

More than 60% of Belgian parents want to be better informed about the games their children are playing.

Brussels - 22 November, Most Belgian parents with children between the ages of 8 and 16 actively follow the gaming behaviour of their children. However, 62% of parents would like to be (even) better informed about the video games their children are playing. This is shown by new figures from the Belgian Entertainment Association, the federation of the video games sector in Belgium. Barely 1 in 4 parents today use the parental control tools, settings that enable parental control on every gaming platform. To help parents on their way to letting their children play safely and responsibly, the Belgian Entertainment Association is launching the campaign www.speelhetslim.be, with the support of Minister of Digital Agenda Alexander De Croo and Flemish Minister of Culture, Media and Youth Sven Gatz.

Games are an integral part of our children's lives

On average, children play games 5 hours a week. 20% of the children play more than 7 hours a week. More than 8 out of 10 parents (84.9%) indicate that their child sometimes game with their own smartphone. Especially games like Candy Crush are played a lot, but also games like Super Mario Bros. and Fortnite are very popular.

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Véronique De Kock, ambassador of 'Speel Het Slim' and mother of a 13 year old son makes clear agreements about this: “I think it's important to have rules about my son's gaming behaviour. For example, I keep a close eye on which games he plays and how long he plays, by setting a timer for this or making appointments. And when my son comes home with a bad report, for example, I don't allow him to play for a weekend. If his points are better the following week, he can play again”.

Alexander De Croo, Minister of Digital Agenda: “Thanks to digital technology, our society and the playing environment of our children are changing at a rapid pace. The research shows that it is not always easy for parents to keep a close eye on all these evolutions. However, it is extremely important for parents to acquire the necessary digital skills to allow their children to play games in a safe and responsible manner“.

Most parents would like to be better informed about their child's play behaviour.

Although 71% of parents have ever played a game together with their child, 62% of parents want to be better informed about their child's playing behaviour. Parents of gaming boys are more inclined to say that they are more aware of this than parents of gaming girls. For boys, 67% of the parents say they are aware of this, for girls this drops to 58%.

Elke Boudry, press officer of the Flemish Knowledge Centre Mediawijs: “By entering into a conversation with children about gaming, parents can lay the right foundation to take away their own concerns and guarantee a healthy leisure time for their children. The PEGI age classifications and parental control tools can be helpful tools in this respect, provided that they are discussed first. The more a parent knows about games, the more efficiently agreements can be made”.

Only 1 in 4 parents uses parental control tools.

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Although the majority of Belgian parents are aware that there are applications to ensure safe and responsible gaming, only 1 in 4 parents (24.9%) currently use it. The majority of parents (68%) would consider setting up parental controls on the devices used for gaming. This may indicate that some parents are not sure how to set this up correctly.

Pieter Swaelens, Managing Director of the Belgian Entertainment Association, explains: “We've noticed that a lot of parents aren't quite up to speed when it comes to the video games their children play. Yet today they are an important part of their living environment and upbringing. As a sector, we take our responsibilities seriously, especially when it comes to minors. That's why we're launching speelhetslim.be today. With this website we want to inform parents as much as possible about the means the sector offers to stimulate safe and responsible gaming”.

Sven Gatz, Flemish Minister of Culture, Youth and Media: “Games are no longer a niche product, they are an integral part of the lives of our young people. A lot of children play games every day. Just like in the past, they need parents who show them the way to grow up in a playful way”.

Parental control tools are a good tool for parents to let young players play safely, smartly and responsibly. For example, it is possible to use such settings to make certain websites inaccessible or to disable chatting with strangers. Three quarters (75.3%) of parents know how to ensure that their child does not spend money online. Making certain websites inaccessible (63.8%) and setting a time limit (61.7%) is also fairly well known to parents. Parents are less familiar with how to make certain content that is not intended for their child's age inaccessible and how to protect certain apps or restrict communication with unknown players.

Dirk Bosmans, Operations Director at PEGI: “Parents can make use of a number of useful tools to keep home gaming fun and responsible. The PEGI rating is a useful advice that provides information about the type of content you can find in games. And the Parental Controls settings that are available on all devices are a convenient way to do this: it helps parents to keep track of their appointments

David Verbruggen of the Federation of Flemish Video Game Developers (FLEGA) and Bruno Urbain of the Federation of Walloon Video Game Developers (WALGA) confirm: "TV, internet, social media, the smartphone, games...". play an important role in the lives of children and young people today. Most parents see their children's media use as positive, but also as a challenge. In the video games sector, we provide a lot of resources to help parents get started. Because they are not yet sufficiently known, we as a local industry are putting our shoulders to the wheel in this campaign”.

About the research

Online research conducted by research agency iVOX on behalf of BEA between 23 October 2018 and 7 November 2018 with 600 Belgian parents with children between 8 and 16 years of age playing games, representative of gender, region, age and diploma. The maximum error rate for 600 Belgians is 3.94%.

About 'Speelhetslim'

Speelhetslim was launched by the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA), the Interactive Software Federation Europe (ISFE), the Flemish Games Association (FLEGA), the Wallonia Games Association (WALGA), PEGI, the European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) and Screenbrussels. The campaign is officially supported by the Federal Ministry of Digital Agenda, by Mediawijs and by the Flemish Ministry of Culture, Media, Youth and Brussels.

About BEA

BEA - Belgian Entertainment Association - is the federation that represents the associations of music, film and video games producers and distributors in Belgium: The mission of BEA Music, BEA Video and BEA Interactive is to support, protect and promote the film, video, music and games sectors. BEA acts as the voice of these different sectors towards the authorities, advisory bodies and professional associations. In addition, BEA provides advice to its members in various areas, such as legal challenges. BEA also acts as a source of information for its members, the media and the public about the entertainment market and the entertainment industry. Finally, BEA promotes the repertoire of its members and protects them against illegal offers and unfair competition.

About FLEGA

FLEGA, the federation of Flemish video game developers, supports the Flemish gaming industry and collects all Flemish individuals and companies active in the Flemish gaming industry (such as developers, service providers, educational organisations, researchers, vendors, local publishers, etc.). FLEGA proactively defends and promotes the interests of its members. FLEGA also advises its members and encourages them to share information and knowledge. FLEGA represents its members when it comes to communicating with government and other non-gaming businesses or international organisations.

About WALGA

WALGA is the federation of Walloon video game developers. WALGA's mission is to collect, structure, stimulate and represent the Walloon industry in the field of game creation (developers, service providers, educational organisations, researchers, vendors and local publishers...). WALGA’s goal is to support companies at local, regional and international level and to help the industry to sustain itself. The organisation of events and/or specific missions to local and international authorities are the main means to achieve this mission.

About ISFE

The Interactive Software Federation of Europe represents the interactive software industry (video game publishers and developers) as the fastest growing sector of the European content industry, with consumers spending around 20 billion euros in 2015, within a global market of 68 billion euros. ISFE represents the sector's interests vis-à-vis the EU and other international institutions. ISFE brings together 13 major publishers of interactive software and trade associations in 18 countries in Europe.

About PEGI

Pan European Game Information, abbreviated to PEGI, is a European age rating system. Using age and content icons on computer game covers, the PEGI system provides information to parents and educators about possible inappropriate elements in computer games.

PEGI was set up to help European parents make informed decisions about the purchase of computer games. The system was introduced in April 2003 and was developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE). The PEGI system replaced a number of national age rating systems with a single system now in use in most countries of Europe.

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Gauthier Soinne