As EA Sports’ latest instalment of the FIFA franchise releases in the UK today, one of the country’s leading gaming and gambling awareness charities is encouraging parents to learn about the games their children are playing by using their free online resources.
The Young Gamers & Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) is urging parents and guardians of young people buying a copy of the hugely popular football game to learn about the mechanics, understand online behaviours and create a positive online space for kids to be safe while gaming.
In a blog published on the YGAM website, Kev Clelland, Operations Director of YGAM (and father of two) spoke about the importance of ‘safeguarding children from the potential harms of the digital world’. In the article, which directly addresses the launch of FIFA 21, Mr Clelland said: “Parents across the UK, including myself, have been hearing all about the release of FIFA 21 for weeks now and the game has become just as popular as watching or playing football and no less competitive. However, I won’t be the only parent who has experienced the sometimes-toxic nature of online video gaming.”
“For parents, it can be hugely worrying and unnerving to allow children to engage with friends and play online, especially with so many aspects of gaming being unfamiliar to many adults. Another area that causes concern and confusion for me and many parents is the use of Loot Boxes, or in the case of FIFA, Ultimate Team Packs (FUT Packs). The introduction of these games of chance in many video games played by children has led many to campaign for the reclassification of them as ‘games of chance’ making them subject to the Gambling Act. With what seems like an overwhelming amount of information out there, it is more important than ever that parents are able to understand the mechanics of the games that their children are playing. Being equipped to create reasonable and realistic boundaries is essential.”
In 2019, a study released by the Anti-Defamation League showed that the majority of people who played online games received some form of harassment, abuse, or bullying. Over two thirds of those surveyed reported experiencing ‘severe’ harassment.
Mr Clelland is urging parents to make use of YGAM’s free information and support resources through their online Parents Hub. He said: “Giving parents the resources and knowledge they need to understand games such as FIFA is key to being able to manage children’s safety online and minimise exposure to harmful behaviour. There are many great tips available through the YGAM Parents Hub on how to engage with children and help them stay safe. If your child is buying FIFA 21, or already has it, be sure to check out www.parents.ygam.org for all the information you need to keep them safe online.”