Video Games Help Lift NZ Economy and Depressed Teens


As reported over at the NZ Herald, video games are helping to lift the Auckland economy out of recession.

Fourteen of the city’s fledgling game development companies, which employ 160 fulltime workers, say they plan to create a further 135 fulltime high-tech creative jobs in Auckland by next April.

Further to that, collaborators at Auckland University have just won an international award for a new computer game called Sparx which helps depressed teenagers.

To read the article, click here

NZ Game Aims to Help Teens Suffering Depression


As reported at, a 3D fantasy game developed at Auckland University could help to treat depressed teens.

The game – Sparx – lets players choose an avatar, or character, which can roam around a virtual world, interact with non-playing characters and complete challenges.  The challenges have been carefully based on cognitive behaviour therapies, a common technique used in face-to-face counselling.

To read more about this great initiative, click here

NZ’s Top Computer Geeks spread Gifts to at-risk kids

Apr reports that some of New Zealand’s top corporate computer geeks are using computer games to improve the skills of young people in poor communities.

The group, led by The Warehouse chief information officer Owen McCall, aims to install cast-off computers from businesses in 50 community centres around the country by the end of 2012.

To read more click here

Safer Internet Day 2010: Think before you post



Safer Internet Day is an annual international event which aims to raise awareness about the safe and responsible use of new technologies—especially among children and young people. Organised by Insafe, the European internet safety network, Safer Internet Day will take place on Tuesday 9 February 2010.

This year’s theme is ‘Think before you post’.

In 2009, Safer Internet Day was celebrated through 500 events in 50 countries all over the world.

Safer Internet Day activities are co-ordinated in Australia by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). Australia has participated in Safer Internet Day celebrations since 2004, when the event was launched internationally by the European internet safety network, InSafe.

‘Think before you post’ is an important topic for young people as the risks are both personal and can have an impact on others.

The ACMA, through its national cybersafety education program, Cybersmart, will mark the day with a series of internet safety events and activities. These include:

  • a Cybersmart Detectives activity involving schools across Australia
  • Launching cybersafety-themed videos produced by children and young people on the Cybersmart website
  • A ‘Hot Seat’ in children’s networking website SuperClubsPLUS Australia for upper primary and lower secondary school students
  • A mailout to all Australian local councils and public libraries with Safer Internet Day posters and other cybersafety materials.

A broad network of partners supports Safer Internet Day across Australia.

Think before you post

‘Think before you post’ is an important internet safety message for children and young people. It applies to both their use of the internet and mobile phones. A simple technique of stopping to think about the consequences before sending or posting online may help to reduce the negative experiences online.

The Cybersmart website provides easy-to-recall tips which detail some of the most important points. These include:

  • Think before you hit send or post. Once something is posted, it can be online forever.
  • Don’t post anything you don’t want others to know—or that you wouldn’t say to them face to face. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
  • Remember that private images and videos you send or post on a social networking site may be easily passed on to others and uploaded to public sites. Once they’re up, it’s almost impossible to remove them completely.
  • Respect other people’s content and be aware that if you post or share their content it might breach copyright laws. For example, a photo that your friend took is their property, not yours. You can only post it online if you have their permission.
  • Keep your personal information private. Don’t share personal details like your name, address or school with people you don’t already know in real life.
  • If you plan to send private information to anyone using your mobile phone, talk to a trusted adult before you send. Be cautious.

For more information, visit


The ACMA’s Cybersmart program

The ACMA provides comprehensive cybersafety initiatives and education programs as part of the Australian Government’s cybersafety policy. The ACMA’s program, Cybersmart, includes undertaking targeted information and awareness-raising campaigns, activities and programs, developing cybersafety education materials for use in schools and at home, and researching current trends in cybersafety.

The Cybersmart program includes:

  • The Cybersmart website This website provides a comprehensive, one stop shop for cybersafety information aimed at young people, parents and teachers.
  • Cybersmart Online Helpline service—provided by Kids Helpline, this service offers free, confidential online counselling to young people who have encountered negative experiences online. The Cybersmart Online Helpline is accessed through the Cybersmart website.
  • Targeted information and awareness-raising campaigns and activities, such as Safer Internet Day and participating in National Child Protection Week.
  • Developing cybersafety education materials for use in schools and at home. These programs are designed for children from 5 to 15 years and include Hector’s World™, CyberQuoll, CyberNetrix, Cybersmart Detectives and Wise up to IT.
  • The Cybersafety Outreach program of Professional Development for Educators and general internet safety awareness presentations for parents, teachers and children.
  • Researching current trends in cybersafety and young people’s use of online media.
  • The Cybersafety Contact Centre offering callers information and advice about internet safety issues and concerns. Telephone 1800 880 176.
  • A complaints hotline for members of the public to report offensive internet material. Visit:

Parents all thumbs when it comes to gaming controls


Parental controls on gaming devices overlooked by parents

Despite the importance of age-appropriate material for children and ensuring the balance between playing video games and other forms of recreation, many Australian parents are unaware of the parental controls built into popular console gaming devices.

A Newspoll study of over 500 parents* revealed that just 26 per cent were aware of the controls within most  consoles to help manage the amount of time their children spent playing games, and a further 49 per cent of parents were not aware of classification locks.

Commissioned by the industry body, the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA), the survey found that when parents were given the choice of using classification and time settings and notifications, 79 per cent would versus 21 per cent who would not use the controls.

According to Ron Curry CEO of the iGEA, the study was commissioned to better understand awareness of the tools amongst parents.

“Interactive gaming is played by young children, teens, Mums and Dads and as a popular family past-time, we want to equip parents will the tools to ensure their children enjoy the best gaming experience.

All of the popular games platforms have built in controls to help parents ensure that the children are playing games that are suitable for their age. The majority of platforms also have specific tools to help parents manage the amount of time their children spend playing games. .”

“Up to 88 per cent of Australian homes* have at least one device for playing video and computer games and we are urging parents to be aware of the settings that can help families ensure healthy gaming habits,” said Curry.

Of the 21 percent who wouldn’t use any parental controls; 38 per cent weren’t concerned about the length of time their child played for, 34 percent weren’t concerned about the type of games played and 22 percent believed their child could override the parental lock.

Well known adolescent psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg believes young people need a moral compass and urged parents to take a greater interest in their family’s video gaming habits and to use interactive entertainment to help bring families together.

“In a few quick steps, parents can create password-protected profiles for each family member that help balance time spent on gaming and other activities and ensure their children only access age appropriate content,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.

Stephanie Brantz, Channel Nine sports reporter and mother of three enthusiastic gamers, believes the best strategy is to get involved and take on the kids.

“Being a competitive person at heart, I’ve had some enthralling battles racing cars and playing tennis, especially with my eldest son who’s built up amazing dexterity from gaming.  Initially, I stood on the sidelines while they played but now it has become a popular family activity and you relate to kids on their level,” Stephanie said.

Through parental control settings on gaming devices, Stephanie sets a daily play limit of one hour per day for each child and closely monitors what games are played.

“Gaming in our house is on par with watching TV and similar to other interactive entertainment, all kids need a healthy balance between spending time with family and friends, outdoor activities and playing video games,” she said.

Confirming gaming’s status as a mainstream family activity, the Newspoll revealed 69 per cent of parents either regularly or occasionally play video and computer games with their children – Dads proving to be the biggest fans – 81 per cent participating compared to 59 per cent of Mums.

“Interactive games are played by all generations across the entire household and publishers continue to produce quality games to meet the demand.  Family games are the best selling genre and 67 per cent of all games sold last year were G or PG rated titles,” Curry said.

Other interesting statistics from the research included:

  • Of the parents surveyed, males had a higher awareness of both parental control functions (66%) compared to females (40%).
  • 54% of parents said the parental lock functions would mean there would be fewer arguments about video game usage in the household
  • 85% of parents said the parental lock functions would provide a safeguard to prevent their child from playing games with inappropriate content
  • 73% of parents said the parental lock functions would help establish a routine around playing video games

–       Ends –

*IA9 is based on a national random sample of 1,614 households in which as many adults responded to more than 75 questions providing over 300 data points in a 20-minute online survey. The survey was fielded by Nielsen Research in July 2008.

* Newspoll research was conducted nationally involving 535 adults with dependent children aged up to 17 in the household.  The research was conducted over the period 12 – 15 of November 2009.


iGEA CEO Responds to Atkinson’s Form Letter on R18+


I’ve been pondering over whether to reply to South Australia’s Attorney-General Michael Atkinson’s form letter on the R18+ classification for computer and video games.  What’s been stopping me is that to do so requires an enormous amount of effort (which is fine), frustration and also a great deal of patience for reasons indicated below.

To reply in some glib way wouldn’t do any justice to the debate and a superficial response would offer little constructive input.  However, the debate is important and one that has been largely hijacked by Atkinson whose invective, in my view, is full of moral panic, misinformation and factual inaccuracies.

So, at the outset I warn you about the length of this analysis of Atkinson’s letter. I also resign myself to the fact that only the ‘converted’ will probably take the time to read it in its entirety.  For ease I have included extracts of Atkinson’s letter, which I hope will give context to his argument.  I will leave selective paraphrasing to the political experts.


Futurelab Gaming in Families Research: Parents’ & childrens’ views on and experiences of gaming


Ipsos MORI recently conducted research on behalf of Futurelab consisting of two surveys – one with parents of children under 16 and one with children aged 5-15, with the key objective of examining their views on and experiences of video/computer gaming.

A full copy of the research findings can be downloaded here.

ACMA: Computers and DVD’s an Increasing Part of Young Australians’ Lives


A new report highlights the way that digital media is embedded in the lives of young children, commencing in pre-school years. In 2007, 94 per cent of 3 to 4 year olds watched television and 91 per cent watched DVDs or videos, while a sizeable proportion also used a computer at home (40 per cent) and a minority (16 per cent) had played games using an electronic games system. (more…)

Game Over! Knowing When to Stop


Tips for parents who may be concerned about the amount of time their children spend playing video games:

Game Changer: Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children’s Learning and Health


Children as young as four are immersed in a new gaming culture, but many parents, educators and health professionals, concerned over violence, sexual content, and reports of addiction, do not consider games to be a positive force in children’s lives. (more…)

Use of Electronic Media and Communications: Early Childhood to Teenage Years


Findings from ‘Growing up in Australia’; The longitudinal study of Australian Children (3-4 and 7- 8 year olds), and Media and Communications in Australian Families (8-17 year olds) 2007.

Read the Report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority

Games in Schools


European Schoolnet is undertaking a major study sponsored by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe on the use of games in schools in Europe: video games, computer games, online games that run on consoles, computers, handhelds or mobile phones.

Read the Full Study

or the Main Results Summary

An R18+ Classification for video & computer games – A discussion of the facts


What is the IEAA’s position on the issue?

The Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) believes that the introduction of an R18+ classification is essential to:

  • Future-proof the computer and video games industry in light of technology convergence which is blurring distinctions between different types of media;
  • Cater to the rising age of computer and video game players in Australia (in 2008 the average age of Australian gamers was 30), allowing adult gamers to be treated as such and have broad choice in the types of games they play;
  • Provide parents with a complete toolkit to manage children’s game playing;
  • and Bring Australia into alignment with the rest of the world.


Video Games Myths


The nine most common myths surroundings Video Games, who plays them and their effects on society. (more…)

Teens, Video Games, and Civics



Video games provide a diverse set of experiences and related activities and are part of the lives of almost all teens in America. To date, most video game research has focused on how games impact academic and social outcomes (particularly aggression). There has also been some exploration of the relationship between games and civic outcomes, but as of yet there has been no large-scale quantitative research. This survey provides the first nationally representative study of teen video game play and of teen video gaming and civic engagement. The survey looks at which teens are playing games, the games and equipment they are using, the social context of their play, and the role of parents and parental monitoring. Though arguments have been made about the civic potential of video gaming, this is the first large-scale study to examine the relationship between specific gaming experiences and teens’ civic activities and commitments.


This survey was conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an initiative of the Pew Research Center and was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. A full copy of the findings can be found here.

Their Space: Education for the digital generation


Young people are spending their time in a space which adults find difficult to supervise or understand…

There are some powerful myths that inform the way people think about youth culture. This report sets out to challenge some of those myths, in order to explore the real value behind the digital interactions that are part of everyday life.

Approaching technology from the perspective of children, this report tells positive stories about how they use online space to build relationships and create original content. It argues that the skills children are developing through these activities, such as creativity, communication and collaboration, are those that will enable them to succeed in a globally networked, knowledge-driven economy.

Hannah Green’s & Celia Hannon’s report can be downloaded here.

Byron Review – Children and New Technology (UK)


The Byron Review is about the needs of children and young people. It is about preserving their right to take the risks that form an inherent part of their development by enabling them to play video games and surf the net in a safe and informed way. (more…)

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