Check the ratings. Use both the rating symbol on the front of the package and content descriptors on the back to select the most appropriate games for your child and family. Visit the ESRB website to search for rating information before you head out to the stores.
Carefully read and look at the package. Game content is described and depicted in detail on the back of virtually every game box.
Talk to other parents and older children. This is a good way to learn about computer and video games.
Monitor your child’s video game play. Just as with TV, movies, and the Internet, it is always a good idea to be aware of and involved in the games your children play.
Exercise caution with online-enabled games. Some games let users play with other people on the Internet, but it’s important to realize that some of these games contain live chat features or other user-generated content, including character models (“skins”), settings (“maps”), weapons and other content that are not part of the ESRB rating. Online-enabled games carry a warning on the package that reads “Game Experience May Change During Online Play.”
Be aware of downloadable “mods” that can significantly change the content of a game. Most PC games can be altered through the use of downloadable programs called “mods” which are broadly available on the Internet and can change the content of the game. Since players create them, mods are not considered in ESRB ratings. It is important for parents to be aware that some mods can alter a game in ways that may not be appropriate for younger players and may be inconsistent with the ESRB rating.
Learn about and use parental controls. Some of the newer video game console and handheld hardware devices offer parents the ability to limit what type of content their children can access upon activating built-in parental control features. By activating parent controls you can ensure that your kids only play games that carry ratings you deem appropriate for them.
Consider your child’s unique personality and abilities. Nobody knows your child better than you do; consider that knowledge when selecting computer and video games.
Play computer and video games with your children. Play games and talk about them with your kids as often as possible. This is a good way to have fun together as well as get to know which games your child finds to be interesting and exciting, and why.
Read more than the ratings. Game reviews, trailers and “demos” that allow you to sample games are broadly available online and in game enthusiast magazines, and can provide additional detail about game content that is useful when determining which games are appropriate for your family.