Sunday 21 July 2019

Irish dad hits out after son (7) 'harassed' by ad featuring a terrifying clown

Minecraft is a game with a PEGI rating of 7+
Minecraft is a game with a PEGI rating of 7+

Patricia Murphy

A dad has criticised an online application for allowing inappropriate imagery to be displayed to children, despite having an age rating of seven years or older.

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio One, dad-of-three Tom from Ardee said he was alarmed to discover his seven-year-old son had been repeatedly exposed to an ad for Stephen King's IT, which features a terrifying clown, while playing on his tablet.

The dad said he was surprised that the application featured ads for films which hold a rating of 18+ by the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO), despite the fact that the 'Minecraft' application has been given a rating of 7+ by Pan European Game Information (PEGI).

He did not specify whether the game was the official version, or a free, unofficial download. He also admitted the ad was popping up on other applications on the device.

An ad for Stephen King's IT
An ad for Stephen King's IT

"My eldest son is Ben and he's 10 then Ryan he's seven," Tom told the programme.

"Ryan loves playing on his tablet and he loves this 'Minecraft' thing. He was playing away on it.

"He was on it and we overheard himself and Ben chatting and he turned and he said 'Oh God, Ben look the clown is back'.

"I looked out the window then because I thought my brother was after arriving. I didn't pass any remarks but he turned his tablet face down and turned down the sound.

"Another ten or fifteen minutes passed and he said 'Oh God, the clown is back again'.

"I just turned to him and said 'Ryan, what do you mean the clown is back again?'

"He goes 'Oh Daddy, there's a really scary clown that comes on the adverts'.

"I just caught the end of it, it was actually an ad for a Stephen King film 'It'," he said.

'Minecraft' is a 3D game which allows players to build constructions out of blocks in two modes, Creative and Adventure.

The dad-of-four said he is very conscious of age ratings on his children's games and said he was shocked that the application allows young children to be "harassed" by inappropriate ads.

"The problem I have is that any site can advertise whatever they want but there is a suitability factor and that's the main thing for me.

"The 'Minecraft' application that he was on there is obviously different formats and age groups. He's not allowed to download anything that's not recommended for his age. He always comes to us before he downloads anything.

"It was popping up on a lot of different applications.

"I didn't know where to go with it. It's kind of unfair to stop telling him to stop playing his app. I really don't think kids of his age should be harassed with that type of advertisement," he said.

The father said that his children were also exposed to an advertisement for Assassin's Creed, a film which is rated 18+ also.

"The bottom line is that the companies that are running these games are the ones meant to be addressing this.

"I thought it was a bit ridiculious. I thought there might be more filters," he said. has contacted Microsoft for comment.

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