Are you worried about your kids’ addiction to video games? If the answer is yes, may I announce to you that it is not peculiar only to your home. Many kids around the world play video games. And truth be told, far beyond the fact that gaming has some concerns, benefits, and the many ways that electronic entertainment can impact your home, parents still have to regulate age appropriateness, time limits, play habits and more—and that means establishing some ground rules.
I believe by now you should have realized that not every game that your child wants to play is appropriate. Just like some movies and TV shows that are rated by age, some games are simply not intended for younger players. You have to ensure that the games your kids play are age-appropriate.
Video games have ratings, and to determine if a particular game is right for your child, start with the rating on the package. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) assigns the ratings that appear on virtually every game available in the store. The front and back of the package carry one of six age ratings, ranging from Early Childhood (EC) to Adults Only (AO). Also, on the packages’ back, next to the rating, content descriptors such as “Comic Mischief,” “Violence,” “Strong Language,” etc. explains what might have triggered the rating, and indicate what may be of interest or concern to parents.
However, a complete list of ESRB ratings, content descriptors and their definitions is available at an ESRB’s website, where you can also search for a particular game’s rating before going to the store.
Buying games in stores are not as common anymore, however; digital copies of games are much more popular now, especially on the PC. Some digital platforms are more awkward than others for finding the rating of the game however if you’re at home then you don’t even need to look for the rating on the games page. Use the internet to search for the games official website as it will always give the official rating for the game, the website should also include a trailer and other details about the game which might be good to check. At home, you also have the luxury of spending more time researching the game and the majority of games have plenty of information online about them: text reviews, gameplay videos, review videos on YouTube, twitch streamers playing the game, game screenshots and more.
When evaluating a game, take your time no matter how much your child wants it. You don’t want to get a game then realise later that it’s inappropriate, not all games can be returned so you may be stuck with the game in that case. If you find that your child wanted an inappropriate game then you could look at a similar game which is appropriate for them, switch out Mortal Kombat for Super Smash Brothers if they have the correct console.
PlayStation and Xbox consoles have a large range of games on them but the most popular games on these consoles are typically aimed at older audiences. Nintendo consoles such as the Wii U have lots of “Everyone” rated games which are still popular with adults such as Mario Kart and are great for families to play together on.
All consoles and the various PC gaming platforms such as Steam, have some form of parental controls on them which you can use to block your child from playing with other people online, limit their hours, stop them from purchasing games and more,
One more piece of advice, just because a game looks like a cartoon or anime, it does not mean it’s suitable for children. Not all cartoons and anime is suitable for children either. Even if the game has an anime or cartoon style, it’s still a good idea to check the game out to avoid a nasty surprise. There can also be different versions of a game available and these can contain different content.
- Not all games are for children, regardless of what the graphics style is like
- Use parental controls to stop them from buying games without you present or to stop them from playing free-to-play games which are rated for adults
- There are plenty of “Everyone” rated games that adults will enjoy playing as well
- Be able to recognise the Rating sticker on a video game
- Research the game before buying
Remember, video games are fun for everyone when treated right and all you need to do is pay attention to a few details in order to keep your child safe online and away from inappropriate material. It’s up to you to decide what is appropriate for them and decide exactly how much access to online gaming they can have.
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