The holiday season is here and kids of all ages are adding new and favorite video games to their holiday wish lists. Whether you’re a parent, close relative, or a friend, purchasing video games can be complicated. While some video games might seem innocent, it’s not always easy to tell if the content is age-appropriate without checking the rating first.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners encourages parents and other gift-givers to ensure they are purchasing age-appropriate games by looking at the back of video game packaging, or online, to view their ratings. Watch as Diana Lewis, veteran WXYZ news anchor, sheds more light on this important issue.
Fortunately, the Entertainment and Software Rating Board (ESRB) makes it easy for you to do your video game homework. Kids hear about all kinds of exciting and fun video games at school and may ask for a game that they know little or nothing about. Parents and other gift-givers, unfamiliar with the game or unaware of the potential harm violent content can have on children, may inadvertently make well-intentioned but uninformed purchases. You can check the ESRB’s ratings for guidance about video games and apps in order to make more informed choices about which games are suitable for your child and your family.
ESRB ratings have three parts:
- Rating Categories suggest age appropriateness
- Content Descriptors indicate content that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern
- Interactive Elements inform about interactive aspects of a product, including the users’ ability to interact, the sharing of users’ location with others, if in-app purchases of digital goods are completed, and/or if unrestricted internet access is provided.
Here are more tips to keep your children safe while playing video games
- Set parental controls and family safety settings on gaming devices
- Know that most gaming devices can directly connect children to the Internet
- Allow your children to play online games only with gamers that you know offline
- Have children play video games in a common room, like the kitchen or family room
- Limit the amount of time children can play
- Restrict audio chat and photo sharing
- Play video games with your child
Take the guesswork out of video game gift-giving and play it safe by using these tips and always checking ESRB ratings this holiday season and every time you buy.