Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Oct. 29, 2013

Helping Parents Become the Ultimate Game Controller

* Chairman of the FOSI Board; President, Entertainment Software Rating Board
If your home is like most American homes, chances are you have a video game console. And if so, you’ll probably be buying a game or two for the holidays. You may even be looking to upgrade your system to one of the new ones that comes out this fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if the kids have already started their lobbying campaign for that one. It’s going to be a big year for video games, so parents should keep in mind the tools they can use to manage the ones their children play.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and my organization, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), have launched a new PSA to encourage parents to check a game’s rating by using the ESRB’s free mobile app to get more detailed information about game content, and to set the parental controls that come on all of today’s game consoles.

Using these tools is a no-brainer. Every game you’ll get in a store or download for a console (Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, or handhelds like PSP or 3DS) will have a rating on the package. It will tell you – literally in black and white – what age the game is suitable for and what types of content you might want to know about. The app lets you find out in seconds exactly what content factored into that rating, including specific, detailed examples. (I’ve had parents tell me our Rating Summaries are the “ammunition” they need to explain to their child why a certain game isn’t appropriate for them.) And parental controls are a set-it-and-forget-it way to make sure that the household rules are followed. But here’s the catch – they only work if you set them up in the first place!

So check out the new PSA, share it with other parents whose kids play video games, and remember – the ratings are there for a reason! There are plenty of games out there for players of all ages, but not all of them are intended for kids. Take advantage of these tools and resources to make sure the ones you bring home this year are both fun and age-appropriate.