Video gaming can be an enjoyable and entertaining experience for the whole family and there are many games to choose as well as consoles. Like other forms of entertainment there are age-appropriate considerations for both the content of the video game and the functionality offered within the video game console.
If you are considering purchasing a video game, make certain that you take a look at the rating. All video and computer games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (or ESRB). The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body that independently assigns computer and video game content ratings along with enforcing advertising guidelines and helping to ensure responsible privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.
ESRB ratings have two components, the rating symbol and the content descriptor. The rating symbol gives guidance on age-appropriateness of the game and is found on the front of the video game package. There are 6 age ratings:
- Early Childhood ("EC") – Recommended for ages 3 and older
- Everyone ("E") – Recommended for ages 6 and older
- Everyone 10 Plus ("E10+") – Recommended for ages 10 and older
- Teen ("T") – Recommended for ages 13 and older
- Mature ("M") – Recommended for ages 17 and older
- Adults Only (Adults Only) – Only Ages 18+
Content descriptors provide context for the age rating and are located on the back of the video game package. There are 30 content descriptors in total ranging from alcohol references, to violence, sexual themes, simulated gambling, and tobacco. For a full explanation of ESRB ratings and descriptors, visit http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp.
The ESRB also provides a helpful search tool on their homepage so you can easily find the ESRB rating for a game. The tool allows you to search by title, rating, content descriptor, publisher and platform and can be found by visiting: http://www.esrb.org/index-js.jsp. SafetyClicks also provides the ESRB rating tool on our home page for your convenience.
Let's move on from video games and take a closer look at game consoles. There are two types of consoles, video game consoles and handheld consoles. Video game consoles are connected to a television or computer for graphic display. Handheld consoles are portable with the controls, screen and speakers built into the unit.
There are several game consoles on the market today including Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS (portable), Sony PlayStation 3, and the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP). These consoles have varying features and functions, but most include an Internet connection allowing online game playing and chat. And, most of them provide controls for parents and caregivers to create an age-appropriate gaming experience. However, these controls differ depending on the console.
So, let's take a closer look at the parental controls for individual consoles..................