As you may know, I've participated in blog tours with MotherTalk for about a year now. Today, I've joined a tour with a MotherTalk partner that you also may have heard of: Mom Central, so I can tell you about ESRB.org. I also earned a $20 stipend for this post.
I took the chance to tell you about the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), because it's a comprehensive resource for parents who want to check out the violence level and age appropriateness of video games before buying them or letting their kids play them.
ESRB ratings are found on virtually every video game package, and provide helpful information about the age-appropriateness and content of video games. In addition, many video game consoles allow parents to set controls based on specific games' ESRB ratings. If you follow that link, you will find step-by-step instructions on setting controls for the Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows Vista, Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3.
At the heart of ESRB's site is an online tool that parents can use to search for game ratings. I used it to check out my boys' Imaginext Castle game, which has a nice, tame E rating. The only other non-educational game they've played so far is LEGO Star Wars, which also received an E rating despite some violence. However, Brian bought LEGO Star Wars II for them for Christmas and -- lo and behold! -- it's got an E10+ rating for cartoon violence and crude humor. Wonder if we can return it?
Another very helpful part of the site is the Resources for Parents page. It's got tons of links for finding family friendly video games, reviews, more info on setting parental controls, and online safety. Regarding the latter, we parents know that we need to remain vigilent about policing our kids' online activities. You may not know, however, that kids can download unauthorized or illegal modifications to software and hardware that remove protective controls. So keep an eye out for that, too.
This parenting job gets harder by the year, doesn't it? Thankfully sites like ESRB.org are making it a bit easier.