Video Games and the Family
December 6, 2007
Children playing video games may have improved manual dexterity and computer literacy skills. But too much of a good thing can adversely affect their development and the way they relate to their world. Dr. Mom reports on why it's so important for parents to choose wisely when they shop for video games for their children.
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring… It’s Christmastime in the city. Children laughing, children asking… for video games. What is a parent to do? Just walk through any store and/or watch advertisements on television and you will find a myriad of video and computer games available.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates the content in video/computer games to help consumers make informed purchases. The ESRB recommends parents carefully check game ratings and content symbols on the front and backs of video/computer games. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that video game ratings are not always accurate.
The ratings symbols are as follows:
- EC (Early Childhood) – have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
- E (Everyone) – have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Title in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
- 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 theme.
- 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, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
- M (Mature) – have content that may be suitable for person ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.
- 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.
- 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.)
The ESRB also rates content. These ratings may be viewed here.
Other helpful tips from the ESRB are:
- Carefully read and look at the package
- Talk to other parents and older children
- Monitor your child’s video game play
- Exercise caution with on-line enabled games. Some of these games let users play with other people on the internet and allow live chat between the players
- Read game reviews, trailers, and demos that allow you to sample games
- Use parental controls
Parent involvement is the most important tip of all. Play the games with your children, talk to your child about what is on the screen, and set limits for children’s screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality TV and videos per day, and NONE for children under the age of 2.