How to choose the right video games
You finally gave in and bought your
kids a gaming console but now comes the hard part: How do you make
sure that your kids are playing age-appropriate games?
certainly no shortage of great titles for teens and younger kids.
Despite the fact that games like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed grab all the headlines, M-rated titles represent only 5 percent of all games that receive a rating, according to statistics released by the Entertainment Software
Ratings Board (ESRB). But if you’re not familiar with video games, how do you
distinguish the good from the bad?
When checking on the
suitability of a video game, the first place to start is with the ESRB
Content Rating on the front and back of every game box. The ESRB provides movie-style ratings
for every published game, breaking them down into six categories, from
“Early Childhood” to “Adults Only”. The back of the box will also have a
short description of any questionable content, e.g. “Lyrics” or “Blood,
If you still have any questions on the suitability of
a title, you can check out the game’s Rating Summary, which can be
found on the ESRB web site.
Rating Summaries include a detailed explanation of the content that
factored into a game’s rating, including specific examples. Last year, the ESRB added a mobile app for the iPhone and iPod touch, which allows you to access the Rating Summaries right from the store.
that most ratings and Rating Summaries will not cover online
interaction. You need to make sure you are comfortable with any
component of the game that involves accessing the Internet.
sites such as Family Friendly Video Games and Common
Sense Media also provide helpful tips on choosing appropriate titles.
Don’t rely on what your children tell you, or on the claim that
“everyone else has it.” You are selecting games for your child to play,
not someone else’s.
But by far the best way to choose a
great game for your children is to get involved with their gaming
activities, and even pick up a controller yourself. You’ll get to know
their interests and enjoy spending quality time with them…and you might
just discover that video gaming is way more fun that you thought it was!
(Most gaming consoles also have extensive parental controls, with the controls on the Xbox 360 from Microsoft
probably being the most comprehensive. Check the installation manual
for instructions on how to implement these controls.)