IGF 2020 WS #53 Right to Play?---Online Gaming and Child Rights

Time
Monday, 9th November, 2020 (07:40 UTC) - Monday, 9th November, 2020 (09:10 UTC)
Room
Room 3
About this Session
This workshop is planned to be an interactive session with meaningful discussion, and the discussion will be facilitated in the following ways.
The diversity of speakers as we list above will enable diversified perspectives and views to be shared, highlighting children’s voices.
The moderator is well informed and experienced in presiding multi-stakeholder discussions, and able to have a good control over the meeting progress.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Wenying Su , UNICEF China
Organizer 2: xiuyun ding, China Federation of Internet Societies

Speaker 1: Daniel Kardefelt Winther, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Manisha Shelat, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: AMANDA THIRD, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Matt Mao, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Jing Sun, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 6: Yufan Bai, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Additional Speakers

Lanky Zheng, Male, Tencent  (to replace Matt Mao)

Professor Pete Etchells, Male, Bath University (to replace Daniel Kardefelt Winther due to potential conflict of schedule)

Moderator

Wenying Su , Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Wenying Su , Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group

Rapporteur

xiuyun ding, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Format

Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

(1)What is the impact of online gaming in the exercises of rights of the child? Whether online games have a positive or negative influence on children and their development? (2)What are the roles of the industry, public authorities, parents, caregivers and children themselves in regulating access, behaviors and contents for healthy play in online games? How can they cooperate with each other? (3)To what extent can online gaming industry mitigate the risks posed by online games while assuring the best interest of the child/ without (disproportionately) restricting children’s rights? What are the good practices? How could we facilitate communications within the industry? (4)How to empower children as active right holders in online gaming? Why is it essential to involve the perspective of children and their rights in online gaming? (5)Are there any ethical implications/concerns/questions of business/monetization models/strategies targeted at children deployed by online gaming companies? (e.g.‘data for access’model; F2P) If any, what could be done to offer a more ethical solution?

Emerging and flourishing in the digital era, online gaming is characterized as the most profitable business in the information, communication and technology (ICT) industry, with a revenue of $120.1B worldwide (Superdata) and $32.6B in China (GPC) in 2019. Children and young adults are considered to be key consumers and participants in online games, with a reference to the fact that more than 90% children use digital equipment for games weekly and average accumulative time for play per day is reported more than one hour in China (CCA). The advancement of online gaming ecosystem has created unprecedented new opportunities to learn and play for digital natives, and meanwhile posed potential harm and risks in a more sophisticated and connected way that challenges children’s sustainable development. To best leverage the opportunities and mitigate the risks calls for the joint efforts from public and private sectors, parents, caregivers and children themselves. It’s essential to understand how to engage evidence-based practices from different stakeholders and adopt a holistic approach to achieve international governance for online gaming. Three dimensions of challenging issues are to be illustrated as following. Fragmented Policy and Regulation Firstly, in the context of policy and regulation, legislation from public sectors and self-regulative measures from the industry have presented a piecemeal and disconnected picture. Policymakers have attempted to draw out legislation in relation with online gaming from different perspectives and methodologies, which results in the difficulty in global compliance and coordination. For example, compulsory restriction of play time, real-name registration, or mandated in-game warnings, are rejected by some countries for the sake of violating human rights and democracy, while countries such as China has enforced real-name registration and identification policy in all domestically published online games in November 2019. Age rating system in online games is an area mostly relied on industry standards and good practices, without being legally binding. Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is not legally enforced by federal law, but widely applied in retailers market in US. Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system is used by more than 30 countries but also with no legal force. UK has incorporated PEGI into legislation to make it enforceable. While no official age rating system has been issued in China yet. With regards to the online gaming industry, voluntary technical efforts and self-regulative measures have been witnessed while consistency and effectiveness remains a headache. On the one hand, individual service provider has established codes of conduct, terms of service or age verification methods, these may differ. For example, age ratings of one game developer could differ from Google Play or Apple App stores, or from independent review bodies. On the other hand, it’s difficult for providers themselves to monitor compliance through the existing technical tools like flagging mechanism due to the anonymity, complexity and diversity of languages, vast amounts of communication, and even misuse of reporting as a tool of bullying or harassment. In addition, smaller and less competitive gaming companies may struggle for the costs of inserting a protective system as required by regulators, or attract relatively less consumers with stricter entry rules, thus rendering them less likely to survive in this fiercely competitive market. Academic Divergence Secondly, an academic divide exists on whether online games have a positive or negative, or even no influence on children. Despite high volume of research in place, no conclusive results could be reached, and few high-quality studies suggest that online gaming has a very marginal impact on children’s well-being irrespective of positive or negative. Moreover, World Health Organization’s inclusion of “Internet Gaming Disorder” in the latest International Classification of Disease also ignited discussions and debates among researchers for the potential risk of over-diagnosis and children being stigmatized by parents and schools. Thus, we may infer that the existing research evidence in this field lacks conclusiveness to contribute to a decisive policy making. Biased Media Coverage Thirdly, media coverage is perceived to over-emphasize the dark side of online games. Headlines of video games in association with violence, addiction and health problems are often easier to spur wider attention and worries among caregivers, and moreover to increase the possibility to be seriously viewed as a public “warning” to policy makers. Clickbait news reports as ‘teen’s death at Chinese internet addiction camp” and “a Chinese girl kills her mother after being sent to internet boot camp where she was abused” arose fierce public debates and prompted reflection especially among young people. The biased interplay of media tends to obstruct a balanced understanding and honest public discussions among all stakeholders, which is not conducive to formulate a functioning governance ecosystem of online gaming. Child Rights Perspective, A New Opportunity Examining online gaming from child rights perspective is perceived to be an opportunity to generate a holistic approach in international governance. First of all, it contributes to the global compliance and coordination among all stakeholders in online gaming. United Nations Convention of Rights of the Child (UNCRC), as the most ratified human rights treaty in the world, is a normative instrument for individual nations and cooperation between countries. To tackle online gaming issues from a child rights angle would encourage public bodies to realize their statutory duties and foster international cooperation. Secondly, as a fundamental baseline for all engagement with children, UNCRC assures child participation for better decision makings. Children have their valuable knowledge and experience about gaming and should be heard and involved in consultations in various forms. Moreover, agency and self-empowerment is considered to be the key for children in protecting themselves from online gaming risks and should always be highlighted. Last but not least, exploring online gaming vis-a-vis child rights creates a clearer reference to measure positive and negative impacts, which promotes a balanced consideration in risks and opportunities of online games. As when we consider which rights may be enhanced or undermined by a certain issue like gaming time, we have an objective measurement with reference on the list of rights, which guides us to best leverage our potential to amplify opportunities and mitigate risks for the best interests of children. In all, child right perspective could not only be served as a useful tool to prompt discussion on child protection concerns in online gaming, and also a valuable breakthrough point to further build a healthy and empowering internet environment for children.

SDGs

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Description:

In order to examine what is the impact of online gaming in the exercises of rights of the child and how to facilitate a holistic response to mitigate the risks posed by online games while assuring the best interest of the child, the workshop will first of all analyze what are positive and negative impacts of online games on children with reference to child rights defined in the UNCRC. Then, aiming at striking a careful balance between risks and opportunities presented by online gaming, what roles can be played by different stakeholders including governments, businesses, schools, parents and children and how can they cooperate to create a safe, inclusive and empowering online gaming world will be discussed. 

Expected Outcomes

First and foremost, this workshop aims to strike a careful balance between risks and opportunities presented by online gaming vis-a-vis children’s rights. Secondly, the workshop intends to enhance the awareness of all stakeholders in the international society, including governments, industry and other private sectors, parents and caregivers, and children to consider a holistic response to children’s safety and protection in online gaming. Thirdly, the workshop seeks to explore the power and reach of each stakeholder and further clarify their responsibilities to prompt coordinated and consistent cooperation. Moreover, this workshop will also look into good practices on an evidence and result basis in order to offer valuable recommendations for gaming businesses. Further, promotion of educational games as an encouraging development in online gaming shall be highlighted. Last but not least, from child rights perspective, we wish to facilitate children’s participation in the internet governance and expect more children’s voices to be heard in future discussions about online gaming.

Tools: 1) Preliminary survey: Before the workshop, we will do a survey with a series of questions about online gaming and child rights designed for discussion during the workshop in order to provide first hand data to stimulate workshop discussion. 2) Warm up discussion forum: we will hold a domestic discussion seminar on this topic joined by relevant experts and industry representative, to kick off the discussion and gather inputs; 3) Story Telling Session: This special session is designed to give an opportunity to children to have a voice in this issue and to take their perspective into consideration. 4 ) Question and Open discussion: During the workshop, two rounds of question and open discussion are designed to encourage every participant to share their views and make contribution to the topic. 5 ) Audio visual material: Organizers will explore the use of visuals (i.e. videos,PowerPoint slides, images, infographics) throughout the workshop. 6) Interpretation service: Organizers will use the online meeting platform to provide interpretation for the session and aid audiences whose native language may not be English.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The governance in child online gaming could be characterized with muti-faceted policy measures, multi-stakeholders’ participation and multi-level operation. As the connecting nature of the internet and the profiting nature of businesses challenge the current governance framework, all stakeholders shouldering responsibility for protecting children in online games should strengthen coordination to more effectively carry out their roles. In conclusion, a systematic approach to achieve evidence-based governance of online gaming calls for a combination of public, private, legal and voluntary measures at national and international levels.

Relevance to Theme: We are going to explore the Thematic Track in Trust with topics in human rights,child online safety,and business models. 

Online Participation

 

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: Tencent Conference 

 

Agenda

This workshop is planned to be an interactive session with meaningful discussion, and the discussion will be facilitated in the following ways.The diversity of speakers as we list above will enable diversified perspectives and views to be shared,highlighting children’s voices. The moderator is well informed and experienced in presiding multi-stakeholder discussions, and able to have a good control over the meeting progress. Questions and input for speakers will be prepared in advance to help stimulate interactive, dynamic dialogue. The moderator of the workshop will at the beginning take a roll call of all the participants, so that the moderator can call on individuals to comment on subject pertaining to their interest. Moderator will prep all speakers ahead of time and ask meaningful questions to encourage active participation. Detailed agenda will follow further planning with each speaker. 

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
1. What is the impact of online gaming in the exercises of rights of the child? Whether online games have a positive or negative influence on children and their development?
2. What are the roles of the industry, public authorities, parents, caregivers and children themselves in regulating access, behaviors and contents for healthy play in online games? How can they cooperate with each other?
4. How to empower children as active right holders in online gaming? Why is it essential to involve the perspective of children and their rights in online gaming?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

Online gaming poses both opportunities and challenges to children's development. The panelists examined the impact from different aspects. Professor Pete Etchells gave a brief overview of gaming addiction. He challenged the WHO classification by arguing that maybe cause over-diagnosis and stigma.

Professor Manisha Shelat introduced how to empower child in online gaming by media literacy. She recommended to develop a game literacy, upgraded from media literacy, to cultivate children’s capability to learning in games, learning by game design, learning about and from games.

Dr. Jing Sun went through some facts of child online gaming in China, including the internet coverage, internet participation, motivation and time length, etc.. She shared the study results from Mizuko Ito, children’s purpose for gaming basically covers killing time, hanging out, recreational gaming, organizing and mobilizing, and augmented game play.

Lanky Zheng put forward his opinion about the Relationship between Video Games and Teenagers’ Development, with Tencent’s practices. He introduced that Tencent has endeavored to“use game-based interaction to guide teenagers' learning, and protecting children's right to play in the digital era

Child representative, Bai Yufan, shared her own experience on gaming. She enjoyed playing gaming while socializing with friends, and she hoped that gaming companies will work for more creative games in the future.

Professor Amanda is an internationally renowned expert in child-centred, participatory research. She hit the workshop topic by listing the rights that have been impacted by online gamingThen she explained the benefits to children’s literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, and enjoyment, and in the meantime, risks could be posed by online play.

The attended panelists have agreed on that the comprehensive governance in online gaming calls for the joint efforts from parents and educators, gaming industry, academia, policy makers, and children themselves.

 

3. Key Takeaways

We are highlighting a child rights perspective, because children have the right to learn, to play, to be protected from harm, and to reach their potential in today’s digital environment which includes connected gaming.

Gaming addiction is real and we should be worried, but not panic. And there is still so much more we need to learn about this issue. Academic community especially behavioral science and mental health need to produce more solid evidence, and communicate them effectively so they could guide the policy making and industry practices.  

Gaming literacy, developed from media literacy and digital literacy, enables children to mitigate the risks and empower themselves in online play.  

Child participation is of high value, we shouldn’t make decisions about children without them. Parents, educators, the industry, and policy makers should really make it a standard practice to consult children on matters which will have impact on their lives.

6. Final Speakers

Pete Etchells, Manisha Shelat,  Lanky Zheng, Jing Sun, Yufan Bai, Amanda Third 

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

Manisha mentioned the gender gap is narrowing. 88% of women think online games are the best way to relax. Compared with 45% of men, 61% of women are willing to skip eating, sleeping and other activities for online games. This shows that the gap between male and female players has decreased.

 

8. Session Outputs
9. Group Photo
IGF 2020 WS #53 Right to Play?---Online Gaming and Child Rights