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Byron review calls for computer game ratings

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The Byron Review will today call for cinema-style age ratings for computer games to protect children from violent or sexual content.

Telly pyschologist Tanya Byron proposes a legally binding system of age ratings for games as well as better protection for children using the internet. She wants improved security and privacy practises from social networking sites like Facebook and Bebo.

Byron will recommend the U, PG, 12, 15, 18 cinema labels be adopted alongside elements of the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system - the voluntary code followed by many game manufacturers. PEGI uses age recommendations as well as specific warnings for violence, fear, bad language, drug references, sexual content, or gambling. She will call for £5,000 fines or six months in prison for retailers who sell games illegally.

Byron will also call for games consoles to include parental controls to prevent children playing games not designed for their age group.

She says computers should be kept in shared spaces like the living room rather than in bedrooms so parents can more easily monitor what kids are doing online.

According to some reports, Byron will also ask for better controls of internet advertising - there have been concerns that advertisers prevented from using mainstream media to punt their products, like junk food, are using the internet to reach kids.

She is also expected to recommend an awareness campaign to advise parents on how to keep tabs on what their children are doing online. She has written a version of her report to be read by children.

The full report will be available from here. ®

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