Selecting Appropriate Video Games

From checking the ratings to reading reviews, it’s easier than you think to select appropriate video games and apps for you kids. Find helpful tips below.

It’s always a good idea to start by checking the ESRB ratings when deciding if a video game or app is appropriate for each of your kids. You can easily check for the rating on the front and back of the game box, on the product page when online shopping, in advertisements, through a title search at esrb.org or using the ESRB mobile app (available on Google Play and the App Store). ESRB ratings have three parts:

  • Age rating categories – suggest age appropriateness (such as E for Everyone or T for Teen)
  • Content descriptors – indicate content that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern (such as Violence or Strong Language)
  • Interactive elements – highlight interactive or online features that may be of interest or concern but do not influence the age rating assignment of a product, such as:
    • In-Game Purchases
    • In-Game Purchases (Includes Random Items)
    • Users Interact
    • Shares Location
    • Unrestricted Internet

Many parents and caregivers say they use ESRB ratings as an initial guide for appropriateness before checking the Content Descriptors and Interactive Elements for more in-depth information to help finalize their decision. For physical (boxed) games, parents can also consult ESRB Rating Summaries which provide additional context and details by conducting a title search at esrb.org or using the ESRB mobile app.

ESRB ratings are just one factor for determining whether it’s appropriate for your child to play a certain game, though many parents say the ESRB ratings are the most helpful factor in finding appropriate video games. That said, there are several other approaches that parents should consider, such as:

  • First playing the game themselves
  • Finding a specific brand you trust
  • Sticking to a specific genre (e.g., sports, racing)
  • Looking at gameplay videos and/or reviews online (e.g., on YouTube, Twitch)

A significant majority of parents say all three parts of the ESRB rating system are important in deciding which video games are appropriate for their kids.

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