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online abuse credit Dominic Lipinski PA Wire.jpg
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
UK News

'God's fingerprints' can be found 'in technology': Christian gaming expert responds to Ofcom report on children's online use

by Ruth Sax

Media habits of children are causing increased concern for parents, a new Ofcom annual report revealed.

The 2019 study was based on more than 3,200 interviews with children and parents around the UK.

It found that 45 per cent of parents thought the benefits of children using the internet outweighed the risks, but there was an overall increase in parental concern about young people seeing content that might lead them to self-harm.

Of those parents with children aged between 5 and 15, 87 per cent had sought advice about how to keep them safe online.

The Ofcom report also found the amount of 5 to 15 year olds playing online games had risen from 45 per cent in 2015 to 59 per cent in 2019.

The number of parents who were concerned about the pressure to make in-game purchases doubled from 21 per cent to 42 per cent in four years.  

Author of Taming Gaming, Andy Robertson, who's a Christian, told Premier: "I think the parents are the experts on their own children, and they're the ones to judge about risks.

"But I think we do need to also be careful that we understand what the risks are with some degree of accuracy.

"This report is something which rings alarm bells that should call us to take action in a particular way, rather than to just lock and throw the devices and smartphones away.

He believes we need to remember the positives that can come from online use however and encourages parents to take responsibility to discern appropriate usage for children.

"I think we can be praying for parents and carers to have confidence to know that, they're the people that God has put these children in their care and their therefore best placed to help and support them in living a healthy life. 

"My prayer for them would be that they could find ways to practically have time together in the home and to see online as a positive part of life and that you really do see God's fingerprints in the technology and that it isn't all bad. 

"Our job as parents and carers is to guide and create a context where children can thrive." Robertson said.

The Christian gaming expert told Premier it isn't  necessarily the quantity but the quality of content children are consuming: "Rather than worrying about how long children are spending on the phone, actually understanding what their activity is, what they're doing and encouraging them to have a variety of different things to do is the important thing.

"Along with obviously, having a balanced life, so they're not just at the screen the whole time, but when they're at the screen, that they've got a good balanced diet of consumption, not just doing one thing again and again," Robertson added. 

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