A parent’s common-sense guide to video game boundaries

Assassin's Creed - Promotional image
Assassin's Creed - Promotional image

WASHINGTON, February 12, 2014 — According to the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), 25% of gamers are under the age of 18. 67% of U.S. households play video games and the average gamer spends 8 hours a week playing video games. With new consoles (PS4, Xbox One) the industry expects to experience growth in 2014.

Lorraine Freedle knows parents don’t have the time necessary to research video game usage. Parents are busy. With that in mind, she has provided six common sense tips for parents.

Establish limits

Be firm. Be clear about what can and cannot be played. Limits can be daily or weekly. Remember that it’s easier to bend the rules for good behavior than it is to add restrictions. Be strong and firm with the initial limits.

Get up to date

With a game on every screen now it’s harder than ever to monitor video game usage. Only monitoring console or computer games will not show the whole picture. Count tablet and phone games toward allotted playing time for the day.

Discuss online ads

Computer, phone and tablet games often include advertisements. Ads offering free giveaways and downloads can contain malware and spyware. Walk through them with kids so you each understand what is good and what is not worth the risk.

Stay involved 

Communication is key. Taking an interest in games, learning more about your child’s hobbies can help. Even if you’re not playing with them, stay close and take an interest. Keep the gaming front and center as much as you can.

Read the ratings

Video games are rated just like movies. The ESRB label is on the corner of each box. Visiting their site will detail the rating system and the criteria for each rating. Being informed will lead to better decisions.

Restrict online communications

New consoles are stressing online gameplay. First, assess whether a child is ready to play games in an online community. If they are, think about limits for how much they communicate. Not letting them use a headset and talk to complete strangers to the game is a safe option. The child can still play the game without this communication.

Video games are fun and meant to be enjoyed. As they get more complex it is important to understand them, new trends and the potential risks they may create for children. Communication is key.

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and digital public relations professional. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has contributed to Technorati, Mashable and The Washington Times.

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