The Entertainment Software Association of Canada said this week that gamer parents are largely unaware of their kids' online gaming activity, according to a survey conducted by the game industry trade group.
A poll of over 3,500 gamers, conducted in part with research firm NPD Group, found that 77 percent of kids aged six to 17 played games online, with most saying they do so on a weekly basis, CBC News reported
But only five percent of gaming parents polled said that they believed their children were accessing online games.
ESA Canada executive director Danielle LaBossiere Parr said, "That was very surprising to us. We need to get the message out to parents that they should know what their kids are doing."
Online gaming interactions can be of particular concern to parents, as online video game software and connected consoles can only provide so much protection against anything from sexual predators to foul-mouthed FPS players.
In online-enabled games, U.S. and Canada's self-regulating body the Entertainment Software Rating Board places a warning stating "Online Interactions Not Rated By The ESRB," as it is difficult to control what people say or content they create in certain online games.
But the industry has taken steps in trying to protect children from inappropriate content by including parental controls in major consoles, as well as in Microsoft's Windows. LaBossiere Parr said that parental controls are "better done at the infrastructure level than in individual games," and that parenting itself is the best way to monitor for inappropriate content and interactions.
ESA Canada also found that 93 percent of adult gamers polled found ESRB ratings useful in deciding what content is appropriate for children; 81 percent of respondents felt that the ratings are accurate in relation to actual in-game content; and 77 percent said that they always check ratings before buying a game. More details from the study will emerge when the full study is released next month.