Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the gaming industry has witnessed a jaw-dropping boom. Covid-19 has impacted lifestyles and restricted people from outdoor activities. As a result, many have chosen gaming as the best way to pass their time. By the year 2025, the total number of online gamers can reach 1.2 billion. Around 20% of gamers are 18 below, showing that minors find a great attraction in gaming. An increase in the chance of children accessing age-restricted gaming content has left parents worried. They have less time to monitor the activities of children.
The responsibility lies in the hands of game developers. It is now a legal obligation for them to verify the age of gamers, especially the minors. They need to restrict age-sensitive content and opt for an effective age verification solution.
Traditional methods of online age verification
The idea of using age checks to protect minors is not new. Gaming platforms use various types of age checks to satisfy their legal obligations. Gamers mention their age by entering the date of birth manually. In other cases, they check a box that says “I am 18 or above”. This type of verification works only if the users enter the correct details.
These age gates are still in use as they are easy to insert and do not require any third-party solution. However, this method is prone to identity theft and relies heavily on the conscience of the gamer. According to a study conducted by the Javelin research group, the number of minors who faked identity to access age-restricted content surpassed the 1 million mark. The weak security provided by manual age-checks demands more from gaming platforms. A better option available is using a digital age verification system(AVS).
Age Verification System
Age Verification System is a digital tool that incorporates artificial intelligence and Machine learning to authenticate age in real-time.
These methods are hard to dodge and provide more security than manual checks.
How AVS works
Once the user provides their personal information i-e age, the system carries out the following steps to ensure a reliable and effective authentication process.
- The user takes a picture of the identity document, for example, ID card, passport, driving license, etc.
- OCR technology extracts data (age) from documents.
- Data is matched with the age initially provided by the user. If the match is successful, the user is verified, otherwise not.
- Results obtained are displayed on the screen.
- If a user is unverified, permission is ungranted to access the content.
Protecting minors with digital age verification
Limiting access to age-restricted content with advanced age checks can protect minors from the following.
Aggressive thoughts and behaviors
Games are designed differently for different audiences. Modern games often contain foul and obscene language, promote criminal behavior, etc. Such games are not suitable for minors as they involve negative themes. Studies show that games that involve violence and sexuality can make children aggressive and trigger negative thoughts.
Poor social skills
Social development is a crucial part of human growth that ensures healthy relationships with other people. Studies show that spending too much time on games decreases the social skills of interacting with people. It is even more damaging for minors who are in the development stage.
Studies show that computer games can have a damaging effect on children’s performance at school. Children who spend more than one hour on games can struggle to get good grades.
With the AVS system, gaming platforms can prevent the consequences of accessing age-restricted content.
Limitations and Criticism of AVS system
AVS systems that rely on artificial intelligence have certain limitations. Like manual age checks that demanded honesty while entering age, the AVS system also requires users to provide identity documents with honesty. Children can dodge AVS checks by showing the identity documents of their parents. However, it is easier for parents to hide their identity documents than to monitor their children playing games. There is no doubt that AVS systems need improvement, but they do offer better age protection than traditional-age checks.
The recent boom in the gaming industry has also attracted minors. Minors can easily access adult content online. Gaming platforms now have the responsibility to switch from traditional methods of verifying age to more advanced AI-based age verification systems. These are more reliable and efficient and ensure better protection of minors against accessing age-restricted content.