Video/computer games have come a long way. Technology has brought the variety and realism to a point that could only have been imagined as recently as ten years ago. With this increase in technology, video/computer games have become more educational, more entertaining, and in some cases, a greater concern to child development experts.
The increase in realism that allows young players to manipulate Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to spell words or say thank you also allows players of other games to manipulate extremely violent, graphically sexual, and increasingly disturbing images on monitors all over the world.
Child development experts are concerned that the amount of time children spend playing these games, the lack of parental supervision, and the lack of availability children have to discuss the gaming experience with a responsible and caring adult. When any or all of these factors are present, a child could have an unrealistic world view and participate in self-destructive behaviors.
According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), choosing the right game for your child takes a little time, but it is worth the effort. ESRB makes the following suggestions:
Tips for Parents
- Learn about a game’s content before making a purchase decision. Parents will find that game reviews printed in newspapers and magazines, and on the internet, are excellent sources of information.
- Check the rating and content descriptors before you head out to the store by visiting www.esrb.org, where you can search games by title, rating, content descriptor, publisher and platform.
- Talk to other parents and older children. This is a good way to learn about computer and video games.
- Play computer and video games with your children, watch what they are playing and talk with them about games as often as possible. Consider your child’s unique personality and abilities when selecting computer and video games.
ESRB has compiled the following computer/video games ratings and descriptions:
- Titles rated EC – (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
- Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
- Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.
- Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood and/or infrequent use of strong language.
- Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.
- Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
- Titles listed as RP (Rating Pending) – have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game’s release.)
For a complete list of all ESRB ratings, content descriptors, and their definitions, visit www.esrb.org