Children purchasing 'adult' games illegally
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 12:00 AM
A new study has found children are increasingly able to buy violent video games illegally by using internet auction sites such as eBay.
An investigation by the Welsh Heads of Trading Standards (WHOTS) discovered significant numbers of internet traders are selling X-rated games to youngster through online auctions.
And with violent games such as Grand Theft Auto IV increasingly linked with rising crime among Britain's youth, the study will come as worrying reading to parents and police alike.
The Trading Standards Services at six local authorities across Wales found that almost 90 pr cent of internet traders sold 18-rated games to underage children.
A volunteer aged between 12 and 16 attempted to buy 18-rated video games on the internet using postal orders during the trial.
Of the 44 test purchases attempted, 38 traders sold the games to the children assisting the authorities. This represents a failure rate of 86 per cent.
Lee Jones, acting head of Trading Standards, Bridgend County borough council, said the survey showed the ease with which children can buy videogames for which they are too young.
"Traders who use auction sites and accept postal orders as payment have no method of determining whether the person they are selling to is aged 18 or over," he added.
Brandon Cook, Trading Standards Institute (TSI) lead officer for age-restricted sales, said online sellers had "a responsibility to make sure they have methods in place to avoid breaking the law by making underage sales".
"If traders cannot be sure the person they are selling to is over 18, then they should not be selling," he went on.
"There are a number of companies out there that will run age checks on customers for internet traders. These services are very quick and relatively cheap."
According to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), games and DVDs classified at 15 and 18 "will focus on "strong violence with realistic injury detail, strong horror, language, sex references and depictions of sexual activity".