How to Help Your Child Understand Age Restriction Limits on Games

If you’re concerned about the content of the video games your child is playing, you’re in luck. There is a gaming rating system. The problem is that most parents report not paying any attention to these age restrictions. For this reason, if you are going to stick to that rating system and not let your child play games out of their age rank, you need to explain it to your child so that they understand why and that it’s for their own protection.

ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) ratings help you know what’s in a game or app before you buy it for your child. Each rating compares three parts, including rating categories, content descriptors, and interactive elements.

Rating Categories

These suggest what age a game is appropriate for. For example, they might say E for everyone, or they might say E 10+, which means everyone over 10. Also, there is a T rating, stating the game or app is for teenagers (which means you might want to see it for yourself before handing it over), and M for Mature which may mean over 18. Sometimes it might say M 17+ which means for anyone over 17.

Content Descriptors

Sometimes, these may include descriptions of why they chose that designation above. For example, it might say “substances, blood/gore, violence, humour, language, nudity, gambling, and sexuality” with a rating category. It might include the word “mild,” which means it’s not as intense, but it’s there.

Interactive Elements

This means the ratings also include information about things such as in-game purchases, users interact, shares location, and unrestricted internet. These are signs about the potential to spend money or interact with strangers in a way that might be dangerous.

Rating Summaries

You can also usually find rating summaries on the box of the game or on the website (if it’s a downloadable game) to get this information.

It’s essential to discuss these ratings and how they work with your child. You may want to set strict rules or you may want to be more liberal, depending on your child’s personality. It’s up to you to explain to your child why you are following them and why you expect your child to do the same.

When children understand that some things are for their protection, they’re going to be much more likely to understand over merely saying no without explaining how the rating system works. If you’re willing to check out a game with a higher rating than you’d like, that will also reassure your child that you’re not just blindly following the ratings for no reason.

However, what’s important is explaining to your child why these ratings exist, why you are going to protect them, and how. If your child is upset by your unwillingness to let them play games above their age and rating restrictions, explain to them in full detail why you are doing it and what you expect from them if they want to earn the right to play games you don’t want them to play right now.

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