When video games were first introduced, we had basic games such as space invaders, Pac man and tennis – remember pong? Everyone loved to play and the games were age appropriate for all ages. Unfortunately, as the gaming graphics and technology improved, the realism grew right along with it. As a result, parents need to be on their toes when selecting age appropriate video games for their children.
Fortunately for parents, the gaming industry has put a ratings system in place to help select the right game for the age. This system is the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, also known as the ESRB. The purpose of this system is to rate all gaming software from the ones that are appropriate for everyone to the ones that are only appropriate for adults.
The ratings are as follows:
- EC (Early Childhood)
- E (Everyone)
- E 10+ (Everyone over 10 years of age)
- T (Teens)
- M (Mature, anyone over 17 years of age)
- AO (Adults only)
- RP (not yet rated)
These ratings are clearly printed on the front of every video games sold. Most of the games sold today range in the E to M ratings categories. Games that are rated E are fun for everyone. These are usually games such as Super Mario Brothers, Mario Cart, etc. These games have very little violence and the violence you may encounter could be things like a character jumping on a silly monster or your car crashing into a barrier. Of course no one gets hurt in these games and there is no blood or gory graphics.
The T games are made for Teens, however parents may want to be careful about these games and check them out before you buy them. T rated games have more mature games and may include fighting, real life type crashes and may show graphic scenes including blood.
The M games are rated M for mature themes. These are the types of games that have profanity, nudity, and extreme violence and gore. M rated games are definitely for adults only. Some kids may borrow one of these games from friends and try to sneak it past their parents. So constant vigilance is important when monitoring the games your children play.
Most retailers are very cautious about these video game ratings and they will require ID if someone under 17 tries to buy a game with a Mature rating. Many large retail stores will send in decoys to try to buy M rated games to test their employees. However, sometimes kids are still able to purchase games without ID.
Take the time to play video games with your kids. You will get feel for the games they are playing and they will realize that you are aware of what they are doing. If kids know that their parents are involved and aware of what they are doing, they are less likely to get into trouble. This includes playing inappropriate video games.
Encourage your children to keep their gaming system in the family room or game room. By keeping the games in a common family area, kids are more likely to play games that they know their parents approve of. Kids who keep their game systems in their bedrooms have the opportunity to be sneaky and try games with higher ratings than their parents approve of.
Pay attention to the ESRB ratings on video games, play the games with your kids, and encourage them to play in family areas of the home. You will be taking an active part in their interests and you won’t have to worry about them being exposed to mature themes at a young age.