Take Note of Video Game Age Ratings This Christmas

19/12/2012 17:36 GMT | Updated 18/02/2013 10:12 GMT

With Christmas fast approaching, many parents may well still be debating what to buy their kids this year. There are now so many interactive toys, gadgets and tons of choice for kids and carers alike, with new game releases and consoles remaining a top choice.

Recent research showed that over half of parents or carers planned to buy a game or console for their child. But the research also found that only two in five parents said they only buy games that have the right age rating, and half of parents said they would let their child play a game that was bought for them by a friend or relative, even if it had an unsuitable age rating.

This is worrying: undoubtedly the Christmas period is prime time for pester power, and sometimes it is hard not to give in to making inappropriate purchases. It is important, though, to remember that the power is in your hands as a responsible adult to make the right choices for families and children. This year saw the introduction of the single PEGI age ratings system for games, which gives clear and simple guidance on the suitability of titles for all ages. The minimum age you should be to play the game is clearly labelled on the pack along with some content descriptions, and while the 3 and 7 age ratings are there for advice, the 12, 16 and 18 age ratings are legally enforceable, meaning it's illegal for shops to sell them to anyone under that age.

What's more, while some people are under the impression that games are predominantly first person shooters designed for mature audiences, 18 rated games actually make up less than 10% of all the games on the market. There is a huge variety of incredible games out there that families can play together, whatever the age of their children - whether they be for the Wii, the new Wii U, Xbox, Playstation, DS, PSP, online, tablets and mobiles. Whether you want to have the traditional family argument over digital versions of board games, race against each other, dance together, solve puzzles together, or go deep into a magical story world together, there really is a game out there for everyone, whatever your age.

There are lots of useful resources for parents to find out more about the PEGI age ratings and different games for different ages. This includes, a website for parents and carers where you can find real family stories and suggestions on how games can be a creative and collaborative experience for all the family. You can also see the game charts by PEGI age rating and post your own questions about family gaming to our family games expert, Andy Robertson, who can offer advice that is personal to you.

So, take control this Christmas: level up your games knowledge before you buy - look online, understand the age rating, play the free demos online and read the reviews before you go for the stocking filler that might not be appropriate, and have a top high score New Year.