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Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft Auto is a popular game that is produced by Rockstar. Not all Grand Theft Auto games can be played on a mobile via the app, but there are a number of versions that can.

This guide has been written about the Grand Theft Auto games that can be played on the app, but sections are also applicable to the Grand Theft Auto franchise more generally.

Grand Theft Auto is an open world gaming platform in which gamers play with a distinct mission and role within the narrative of the game. Players control characters that complete missions to progress through the game. The game is realistic, sophisticated and is film-like in quality. The game is designed so that players feel that they are that character and are able to live-chat and broadcast their voice to other players.

Official age rating

This is a PEGI 18 game.

The PEGI 18 rating reflects the (often motiveless) killing of other defenceless characters within the game. It also refers to the use of drugs and explicit sexual activity within the game as well as the use of bad language. The age rating on the Grand Theft Auto app games is 17+ on Google play and the Apple App Store indicating mature content. There are no age verification methods used when creating an account to stop younger players accessing the game.

Find out more about age ratings in our A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games.

How children and young people use the app

Grand Theft Auto is an immersive and complex game. Players can play with friends and become incredibly involved in the gameplay from its first-person perspective and compelling storyline. The adult themed content that includes sex, drugs and criminality within the game may also seem glamorous and exciting for players. The ultimate objective for every player is to complete missions to get to the next stage of the game and its storylines. Players can also navigate the open world by driving cars and customising characters. Some situations are especially tense, heated or dramatic and allow players to roleplay as criminal or lawless individuals.

Potential risks

Content

There is significant exposure to sexual themes, violence including killings, profanity, drugs and criminality within the Grand Theft Auto game. The story lines in the game are very mature, with references to alcohol, drugs and scenes in a strip club.

Story mode is the single-player mode that involves completing missions and progressing through the game, but it is possible for players to play GTA outside of story mode in the GTA open world - for example racing the cars and exploring the world that has been created.

Connecting with others

GTA is designed to be played as a multi-player game with friends or strangers online. Grand Theft Auto is an adult game and exposes players to random adults that they meet through the game.  This clearly presents unknown risks in relation to bad language and influence, bullying and exploitation. However, players of Grand Theft Auto do have the option to amend their settings to restrict contact to only those in their designated friends list.

Design, data and costs

Grand Theft Auto can be immersive and compelling for players, which can result in extended stints of gameplay and strong emotions.  Getting players to step away from games of this kind can be challenging  as users enjoy the status and sociability of the game. It is recommended that players use gaming rounds to balance game times with times when they can take a break.

As with many games played via an app, it relies on in-game purchases to create additional revenue. There is a strong element of social pressure to make purchases when playing with friends. Players should be aware of in-app purchases and ensure they understand that real money is used to make purchases within the game. You can also set up relevant in-app purchase settings on the device.


Tips for keeping your child safe

  • As this has an adult age rating, there are limited controls and settings available to parents and carers for this game. Instead, you will need to look at the settings on the individual mobile device to put controls in place.

    To set to ‘Private’ on iOS:

    • Go to the ‘Game Centre’ in the settings area on your iPhone.
    • Scroll down to ‘Privacy and settings’ and change your ‘Profile privacy’ to ‘Only you’.

    To set to ‘Private’ on Android:

    • Go to the ‘Play Games’ app, touch the menu icon and click ‘Settings’.
    • Select ‘Game profile’ > ‘Play now’ > ‘Your game profile’.
    • Adjust your visibility and notifications settings to the most private options.
  • To avoid playing with strangers on the game, you can change the settings to ensure they only play with your approved friends list. When players sign in, the default visibility setting is to everyone, meaning their profile is made public. You can alter this by changing the setting to ‘Only me’.

  • GTA does not have an inbuilt method of reporting or blocking players within the game. Instead, players will need to know how to do this according to the platform they are using.

  • Whilst some versions of GTA are free to play, in-game purchases are available. You can disable in-app purchases on each individual device itself.

    To disable in-app purchases on iPhone:

    • Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Screen time’ and scroll down to ‘Content and privacy restrictions’.
    • Select ‘iTunes and app store purchases’ and set the option to ‘Don’t allow’.

    To disable in-app purchases on Android:

    • Go to your ‘Google Play Store’ app.
    • Select ‘Menu’ > ‘Settings’ > ‘Require authentication for purchases’.

Key features and terminology

  • GTA

    This refers to Grand Theft Auto.

    Multiplayer

    This mode allows you to play with other people. This can either be with selected friends or with other players you may not know.

    Chat

    The chat function allows players to communicate with each other whilst playing the game.

    Live stream

    It is possible for players to live stream their game play with others viewing it in real time.

General tips

GTA is only suitable for users over the age of 18

There are limited safety options on GTA but there are options to ensure that you only play with people you know rather than strangers.

GTA can be very compelling for users. Where possible, encourage players to take breaks where they engage in alternative offline activities that they enjoy.