Hillary Chybinski: How-To Choose the Right Video Games for Your Family

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How-To Choose the Right Video Games for Your Family

If your family is into gaming, there's a lot more to consider than what's popular and what's the right console for your needs. Choosing the right video games for your family is an important decision.

We aren't huge gamers around here, the boys started with LeapPads when they were toddlers, moved onto DSs when they hit school-age, and are now immersed in the WiiU, PSP and 3DS. I remember when my family got our very fist game, the Odyssey from Sears, and then eventually upgraded to an Atari and finally a Nintendo. Some of my favorite games growing up were Ka-Boom, Stampede and Pac-Man.

John and I purchased a Nintendo before the kids were born, and we may have called out sick one day to play Super Mario Brothers. It's a game I still enjoy playing with the boys on our WiiU.

I've always been strict about content.  I buy only E games and only recently have allowed games for kids 10+. Games these days are so much more realistic than that square (ball) and stick that I played as a kid. With that realism comes a lot of confusion for parents. There's a lot to consider when purchasing or downloading a game for your kids to play. I did so much research before I let my kids play Minecraft, and I'm really glad I did.

Recently, I was a guest at the Activision Family Game Summit, and there was some great discussion around the ESRB. Not familiar with the ESRB?  The Entertainment Software Rating Board assigns ratings and content information for video games and apps. You may have noticed their black boxes on a recent game purchase, and if you haven't noticed it, you're going to want to start looking.

These boxes can tell you the following helpful information:
  • Rating Categories: Such as C, E, E10+, T, M and A
  • Content Description: Such as "comic mischief" or "mild lyrics"
  • Interactive Elements: Such as "Shares Info", "Shares Location" and/or "Users Interact"
Virtually all boxed games have ESRB Rating Summaries, which can be found on the box, online at ESRB.org or on the ESRB mobile app. So know what you're buying before you buy it, Educating yourself can really help in choosing appropriate games for your kids.

This is your first step in finding age-appropriate and content-appropriate games for your family to enjoy. Many of them can even be played as a family and can bring a whole-new light to family game night!

But there's a second step, Parental Controls. Game consoles, handhelds and even most operating systems offer parental control settings that let you restrict access. Step-by-step guides can be found in the device's manual or online at ESRB.org/parents. Don't be shy - get informed. In fact, it's a great idea to talk to your kids about what kinds of games they are interested in. Opening up the lines of communications allows you to tell them what your expectations are and what your family rules are.

While many of these games can provide hours of entertainment and even teach your kids some things, they can also be harmful when not used properly or safely. If you're looking for more information on choosing a game console and games, my friend, Leticia (TechSavvyMama) recently published an article that may help.

What's your current favorite video game?

catch you soon -

Disclosure - I received a care package for attending the summit. I was not compensated for my time or this post and this was NOT a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my very own.

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