According to the Federal Trade Commission, parents usually are involved more than 80% of the time when children purchase or rent video games. How can parents make sure that the hot new video game is right for their child?
The Entertainment Merchants Association encourages parents to take a few simple steps to ensure that the video games brought into their homes are appropriate for their family:
- First, LOOK at the video game's rating and the content descriptors and use them to make sure the game is appropriate for your child. Every video game sold in a store carries a rating, much like the motion picture rating system. The game's rating is clearly displayed on the front of the package. For video games, the ratings are: EC (games suitable for Early Childhood); E (Everyone, suitable for persons age 6 and older); E10+ (age 10 and older); T (Teen, age 13 and older); M (Mature, age 17 and older); and AO (Adults Only). On the back of the package is a "content descriptor" that explains why the game got the rating that it did.
- Second, PLAY video games with your children to gain an understanding of what today's video games are like. (It may not be easy or even welcomed, but it's important to make the effort.) Talk to your children about the games. Make sure they understand the game, its rules, and what they can learn from it.
- Third, LIMIT your child's video game playing appropriately. Like any form of entertainment, video games should not be permitted to interfere with school work, exercise, and other important activities.
- Finally, for those lucky enough to have a Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, or Xbox 360, check out the PARENTAL CONTROLS. You can set the console so that Mature- and Adult Only-rated video games will not play on the system.
Video games can educate, amuse, inspire, entertain, and challenge. There are video games for every age group and interest, but not every choice is right for every audience. Using these guidelines, parents can make sure that their choices are the right ones for their family.