A guest post by Patricia Vance, President of Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
Summer is here, which means school is out and the kids have more screen time. But are you ready? Video games and mobile apps can be a great way to entertain kids during a long road trip or on a rainy summer day. Before handing over the controller or smart phone, it’s important for parents to understand if the games are appropriate. Here are 5 tips for balancing video games and summer from ESRB.
5 Tips for Balancing Video Games and Summer Fun
Check the rating
ESRB assigns age and content ratings for “boxed” video games available in stores and digitally delivered games and apps. For “boxed” video games, the age rating appears on the front of the package with content descriptors listed on the back. Should the game include online play with other users, you’ll also see on the back of the box “Online Interactions Are Not Rated by the ESRB.” This serves as a warning to parents that they may want to monitor or take steps to restrict their child’s online game play. For parents who want more information about a game’s content, they can read the rating summary, which provides a detailed description of the content that factored into the rating. You can search for assigned rating information on ESRB.org or by downloading ESRB’s free mobile app.
Check the rating in digital storefronts too
ESRB ratings are also assigned to games that can be downloaded directly to a video game console via the internet and apps available in Google Play, the Windows Store and for Oculus VR Experiences. In addition to the familiar rating categories and content descriptors, ratings assigned to digitally delivered games and apps may also include interactive elements informing parents if certain interactive aspects are included.
Parents should set rules and limits for how long their kids can play games and when. For online or downloadable games, make sure children understand with whom they can and cannot play. Children should know that they are not allowed to share personal information when completing profiles, purchasing items or interacting with others online.
Set parental controls
While it’s important to talk to kids about appropriate games and online activities, parents can take extra steps to restrict their children’s access to certain games and features through parental controls. Video game consoles and mobile storefronts have parental controls that can be set to block specific games and apps based on age.
The kids aren’t the only people in the house that can have a good time with games this summer. There are dozens of family-friendly games out there that you can play with your kids. Not only will you better understand the games they love, but you’ll discover that it’s also a great way to spend some quality family time.
With these simple tips, both parents and kids can enjoy a pleasant and fun summer vacation.
I volunteer as an ESRB Parent Ambassador. No compensation was received for this post.