Choosing Age-Appropriate Video Games for Your Kids

Video games are more popular than ever before. With enhanced graphics, interactive game play and a variety of gaming platforms, kids and adults eagerly await the next hot game. All video games are not appropriate for all ages. Make your kids aware of the video game choices that are right for them.

In the beginning, video games were universal. Everyone could play tennis or space invaders. There was nothing sinister there. Nowadays, as the graphics have gotten more complex so have the subject of the games themselves. To make the choices easier for parents (especially those who know nothing whatsoever about video games) the gaming industry has come up with a rating system for their games and post it on the outside of every game that is sold.

This system is called the ESRB or the Entertainment Software Ratings Board rating system. It rates games from those appropriate for children to those that are only appropriate for adults. The difference between video games is distinct so it is important for parents to be involved in the process and not let their kids purchase any game that they want.

Think of it as similar to how movies are rated. If a kid goes to a theater and asks for a ticket to see an R-rated movie, he is going to get carded unless he is with an adult. Shopkeepers can do the same. If a kid comes in and tries to buy a game that is not appropriate for his age level, they can ask for identification as proof of age.

If you’ve ever seen a mature game or a game that is rated for adults only, you will know why this system is in place. The rating levels 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)

Most games fall between the E and the M. the main thing that changes is the violence and the language. In an E-rated game, you’ll see things like in Super Mario Bros. the characters will land on monsters or be landed on. Teen games involve more crashed and fighting like Marvel vs. Street Fighter. There will be blood as well.

Mature games are the ones your kids will try to sneak past you in the house. Here you will hear profanity, possible nudity, sexual references and violent killings. Most of the war games, some fantasy and assassination games fall into this category.

As a parent, you want to limit the poor influences on your children as much as you can. If you have to, offer to play video games with your kids to find out what their friends are bringing over. To keep you out of their room and away from their friends, they will comply with the rules.