An MEP is calling for computer games to come with a 'red button' that will allow parents to stop the game if they think the content is unsuitable.

Malcolm Harbour MEP, Conservative consumer protection spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "The computer games market has exploded over the last decade and has created the need for minors to be protected in much the same way as they are with films. Video games are often vilified but if played in moderation they can have positive benefits.

"A red button control for parents will enable them to lock access to games that contain inappropriate content. MEPs are not pushing for new legislation on video games because we hope the games industry will regulate itself."

Harbour's comments follow the publication of a parliamentary report that calls for a greater uptake of the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system, which see console manufacturers voluntarily install technology that allows parents to prevent certain games being played on games machines, rather than a film-style classification system, which has been mooted by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

"The PEGI system has proved remarkably successful in preventing children from accessing violent video games and it is important that we encourage the wider use of PEGI rather than confuse parents through the hybrid system of age classification that currently exist in several EU Member States."

Research by the BBFC recently revealed that three quarters of parents are concerned about the content of video games.

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See also: Sex and swearing surge in computer games