Web Sightings

Filed under: Opinion |

People of all ages are hooked on video games. In fact, recent studies have found that 83 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 18 live in a home with a video game console.

And while the age of players can vary greatly, so can the content of certain video games.

For this reason, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) maintains a two-part rating system. The first part of the rating being a symbol, such as “E” for “Everybody” or “M” for “Mature,” indicating the game’s appropriateness for certain ages. The second rating is a descriptor of the content, such as “Violence” or “Strong Language”.

The ratings you can expect to see on the back of every video game box are “EC -Early Childhood,” “E-Everyone,” “E10+-Everyone 10 and over,” “T-Teen,” “M-Mature,” and “AO-Adults Only”.

But these rating systems are only as effective as a parent’s involvement in understanding them, and participating in kids’ video games.

For instance, it is recommended that parents approach the purchase or rental of a game as an important decision. And with games frequently costing more than $50, it really is a sizable purchase.

Taking time to consider the rating of a potential video game purchase could prevent the future problem of kids picking up inappropriate words or ideas.

Some parents even rent games and play them prior to buying them for their children. This practice almost guarantees that a game will pass a parent’s standards before being purchased.

The ESRB stresses that the ratings are guidelines. Personal taste and standards are different for every family, so determining what is appropriate is a decision that is quite subjective.

For more information about video game ratings, their meanings, or to complain about a rating, consumers may visit www.esrb.org or www.ftc.gov.

Larry Fiorino is the founder and chief executive of the Baltimore, Md.-based e-solutions firm G1440. He can be reached at (410) 843-3800.