Wednesday, November 7, 2007

ESRB Blog Tour

Okay first of all, send the kids out of the room because you do not want them to see this! They will seriously cut off your computer time if they know you are learning things like this.

Are they gone? Well okay, the baby can stay but that's it.

Thanks to the release of game systems such as Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and PSP3 most of our kids are putting video games at the top of their wish lists this holiday season right? Once upon a time you could pop just about any game into the console and not worry about whether or not your 5 year old should play it or if it was too violent even for your 15 year old son. The only violence you saw back then was Donkey Kong tossing barrels at Mario and Pitfall Harry falling in a pit. Even then though there was none of the realistic graphics, blood, foul language, or violence that video games today have.

How does a parent keep up with it all though? I mean, it’s not like we as parents have all day to sit around reading reviews on games and making sure that only the suitable ones make it into our house and even if we did, there is always that one neighbor who lets all the kids play the harsher games there. So what can we do?

The answer is so easy that if you’re like me you’re going to feel more embarrassed than the time your 5 year old kicked your butt at Finding Nemo. Seriously. All we have to do is know what tools there are out there to help us do a good job.

ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) ratings are those little boxes you see on the front of every game box. You know the ones- EC (Early Childhood 3+), T (Teen), 

Another big help is that newer video game consoles (Wii, PSP3, and Xbox 360) are beginning to have Parental Control features that will let us configure the system and decide what our kids can and can’t access on video games based on the ESRB ratings. Personally I like this because we can’t always be right there when our children are playing a video game so these Parental Controls are a little piece of mind when we’re not around. You’ll know your 5 year old isn’t playing Halo3 instead of Spiderman and no more of your teen’s ears being filled with cursing, shooting, and carjacking. Of course, if your kids are anything like mine it wouldn’t take them long to figure out how to change the settings. Haha.

As parents it is first and foremost up to us to actually sit down with our kids and explain what we feel is and isn’t appropriate. It also wouldn’t hurt us to play the games with them sometimes so that we can see for ourselves what they are really like. I know I’m not much into video games but if playing one with my children helps make sure they aren’t exposed to excessive shooting, blood, and gore then I have no problem giving it a go.

Check out ESRB's website which is seriously filled with lots of great ideas, advice, and resources. I thought I was pretty up to date on ratings and descriptions until I checked them out and now I see that I only knew about half of what there is. Okay, you can let the kids back in now but let's keep this just in the "Parent Circle" okay? *wink wink*

*This compensated review brought to you by ESRB ratings*