What are video game age restrictions?

Video game age restrictions can help show what content is suitable for your child’s age. You can also use them to set limits on what is available for your child to play.

There are five age categories and eight content categories, set by the PEGI.

age restrictions: two people playing a video game. Only their hands are visible, holding onto consoles. There is a TV with a football pitch on in the background.

What the numbers mean

Age restrictions act as a guideline for who should use a game, based on the content included.

  • The age categories are ‘3’, ‘7’, ’12’, ’16’ and ’18’. The number means that the content is suitable for that age and above.
  • There is also a ‘Parental Guidance Recommended’ category for some apps.
  • The age restriction doesn’t tell you anything about how difficult the game is. A game rated 3 might be too difficult for a three-year-old, but the content would be appropriate.

What the symbols mean

The symbols on a game represent different types of content. This includes:

  • Violence. Games with a rating of 3 won’t include violence. For a 7 rating, the violence will be non-realistic or non-detailed. Games rated 12 can include violence in a fantasy or non-realistic violence. The 16 and 18 ratings can have more realistic-looking violence.
  • Bad language. There is no swearing in games rated 3 or 7 . Games rated 12 can include mild swearing. Games rated 16 and 18 may include expletives.
  • Fear. The symbol can be on games rated 7 where pictures or sounds may upset young children. It might be on games rated 12 if there are horror effects or sounds but no violence.
  • Gambling. This highlights games that may teach or encourage gambling. Gambling is only allowed in games with 12, 16 or 18 ratings.
  • Sex. On games rated 12 or above. The higher the age restriction, the more explicit the game can be.
  • Drugs. Where a game refers to or depicts the use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. This is only allowed in games with 16 and 18 ratings.
  • Discrimination. This symbol can only apply to games rated 18. It means the game contains stereotypes of religious, ethnic, or national groups. These could encourage hatred.

Learn more about games

You can view ratings for different games on the VSC Rating Board website. Ask About Games offers advice for parents and carers.

For ideas on what your child could play, see our suggestions for games to play as a family. Or search the Family Video Game Database.

We also have some more advice for keeping your child safe online. 

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