When my kids were younger, they often complained that I was "the only mom" with strict rules about the types of movies, games and other entertainment they were allowed to consume. Although I still wear this badge proudly, I see many parents struggling to set similar boundaries at home. After all, considering the rapid page of technological change all around us, who can blame them?
Children are connected and engaged online at an early age and it goes without saying that parents need to stay actively involved to ensure that their kids are using technology appropriately. Fortunately, when it comes to video games, easy-to-use tools can help parents recognize which games are appropriate and to help set parental controls - including a new website - ParentalTools.org. As the president of the non-profit ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) and "the only mom" in my kids' universe with rules about entertainment - here are some suggestions for how to get started:
You may already be familiar with ESRB ratings for "boxed" video games. But you may not know that those same ratings are also assigned to mobile games and apps in Google Play and downloadable games in the Playstation Store, Nintendo eShop, the Windows Store and Xbox Store. The ESRB rating system has three-parts:
Here is an illustration of the ESRB rating system:
Most devices today feature parental controls, allowing you to manage games and apps without having to hover. Almost all parental controls let parents block or limit the games available to their children based on their age rating, but most offer even more choices for you. Depending on the devices, parents can manage:
Most robust parental controls can even include creating a friends' "whitelist", giving you the ability to proactively approve of who can play with your children online, while blocking people who are not on your approved list. These controls are PIN, or password protected, so once you've activated them, don't share your password with your kids, unless you want them to circumvent the controls you have put in place! And don't forget, if you are the account holder, you will always be notified that a purchase has been made so check your messages or email.
Here are five must-dos for today's digital parent:
Video games are always changing, and so are the ways your children interact with them. And, taking control of your family's video games just got easier. #TakeControl #OkayToPlay
This blog was previously published March 5, 2018 on macaronikid.com.