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Quick Tips for Parents
Check the rating. For packaged (boxed) games, check the front and back of the box and look up the game's rating summary by searching on ESRB.org or the rating search app. Many online and mobile storefronts, like Google Play, also display ESRB ratings.
Set parental controls for game consoles, mobile, handheld gaming devices, PCs, smartphones and tablets. Click here for ESRB's parental control guides.
Familiarize yourself with interactive features. All mobile storefronts provide upfront notice about certain interactive features, such as in-app purchases. For digital and mobile storefronts that display ESRB ratings, look for interactive elements listed along with the age rating and content descriptors.
Check reviews for additional information about a specific game, which in many cases will include screenshots, videos, and/or user comments, prior to purchase or download.
Establish ground rules with your children about what types of games are OK, if there are any time restrictions, and how much they are allowed to spend on in-app/game content and who is going to pay for it. It's also a good idea to discuss whether they are allowed to play online multiplayer games and, if so, with whom.
Speak up (or get your child to) when other online players behave in an inappropriate way. You can notify a game's publisher or online service about the offender. Be sure to provide as much information and evidence as possible about the player in question.
Watch for warning signs that your child is the target of cyberbullying, such as changes in computer usage, increased anxiety or depression, reluctance to go to school and/or socialize. Click here for more information on cyberbullying.
Teach your children that the ability to be anonymous or invisible when interacting with others online is not a license to be disrespectful, profane or cruel. For teens this is especially important, not just for ethical reasons, but for future employment and academic opportunities, as employers and universities increasingly conduct social media background checks which can reflect poorly on your child.
Have fun! There's no rule that says you can't sit down and play a game with your children. Not only will it deepen your understanding of what they like about the games they play, but you'll discover that it's also a great way to spend some quality family time. Always remember that staying involved is the best way to cultivate a conversation with your children about the apps they want to install and the games they love to play.