Know Before You Go: Understanding Video Game Ratings Before You Buy
We’re novice when it comes to video games in our household, but I know the craze will eventually hit as my kids continue to get older. I thought these tips are definitely worth sharing and will hopefully help inform parents with a little preparation and knowledge before they select which games are right for their child. Parents should make informed decisions about which games are most suitable for kids.
Here are tips to help parents understand video game ratings and ensure their kids’ gaming experience is appropriate:
- Check the rating: Just like movies and TV shows, some games are meant for children and others are really intended for adults to play. From ‘E for Everyone’ to ‘M for Mature,’ RatingCategories and Content Descriptors appear on nearly all video and computer games sold in the U.S. and Canada and are an easy guide to gauge age-appropriateness.
- Get the detailed facts: For parents who want more specific information, Rating Summaries provide a detailed description of content that factored into a game’s rating, including examples. These can be found on the ESRB website or via their free mobile app, which is available for iPhone, Android and Windows phones.
- Refer to the experts: Video game store associates (who are often gamers themselves) and other parents can be valuable resources for guidance about a game, and game review websites often have photos and videos to help a parent get acquainted with game content. There is also a Parent Resource section on ESRB.org with additional tips and resources for parents.
- Activate parental controls: Game consoles offer parental control features that allow parents to restrict games by ESRB rating, manage online access, and even limit how much time a child can use the system. Follow these instructions for your system to help you manage your children’s video game play.
- Protect kids’ privacy: Because online-enabled games can allow players to speak with one another, kids should know that they shouldn’t share personal information with others, even people they think they can trust. And that’s not limited to e-mail addresses and phone numbers, either; kids should know not to share personal details like where they go to school, where their parents work or what their weekend plans are.
- Be vigilant about cyberbullies: Cyberbullying is a growing concern as more and more kids go online, and just like on a real playground there can be the occasional bully in the game world as well. Talk to your kids about their online gameplay and make sure they know who to turn to if they encounter a bully, online or off. And do everyone a favor by reporting misbehavers to a game publisher or its online community moderator.