Every day, children access a wide variety of media platforms that are filled with advertisements through their phones, tablets and laptops.
Food and beverage advertisements have been found to be the most viewed on apps such as YouTube and Snapchat.
A Canadian study found that children view over 100 advertisements for food each week on apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.
These advertisements are specifically targeting younger viewers who have low impulse control and low healthy dieting behaviors.
Social media has made it so much easier for marketers to target consumers. They can use digital tools like location settings, preferences and past purchasing data to more accurately grab the consumer’s attention.
According to a study done at the University of Michigan, when children view these frequent, and sometimes persistent food advertisements, it makes them desire the reward of food.
In the study, it shows that when adolescents see unhealthy food commercials, it activates the reward centers of the brain. This then causes the child to want to seek out any type of food related to what they saw in the advertisement.
How you can limit your child’s advertisement exposure:
While it’s practically impossible to completely remove all types of advertisements from your child’s life, there are ways to prevent food advertisements from appearing on their screens.
Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime don’t rely on advertisements for revenue and your kids will not be exposed to any type of advertisements on these apps.
Also through the settings section in apps like Instagram, you can see the advertisements that have been shown to your children as well as learn about what to do if you see an ad you wish to hide. Many of these also have parental control options.
Websites like Common Sense Media can help parents learn about the different apps and streaming services their children use as well.
Here at 2020 Parenting, we’ve touched a lot on streaming services, and how they’ve changed the way kids today consume television shows and movies.
By now, most parents are probably familiar with the major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. They’re probably also familiar with the streaming process as a whole. And how unlike cable, streaming service customers can handpick which content they want to watch when they want it.
For better or for worse, the already-crowded industry is about to get one more competitor – one that has the potential power to change the future of streaming forever and knock out cable television, as well as its other streaming competitors, for good.
Parents, I present you, Disney+.
What is Disney+?
Although Disney+ has been in the works for a little over two years, the new streaming service is set to launch on Nov. 12.
Like most of the major streaming services today, Disney+ subscribers will be able to stream using Roku, Apple and Android devices, in addition to being able to steam using gaming consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
For $6.99 per month, or $69.99 a year, Disney+ customers will have access to an overwhelming amount of Disney-created and Disney-purchased content.
Unlike Netflix’s non-premium tier, Disney+ allows subscribers to stream to four devices simultaneously and have access to 4K content for no additional cost.
While most expect that the service will eventually increase their price, Disney has also said they will eventually offer a Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $13 a month, the same price as Netflix.
What’s all included?
While it’s hard to fully understand how much is currently owned and underneath the Disney umbrella, the graphic below can help break it down for you.
The main content featured in Disney+’s pitch is Disney content itself, (animated and live-action films, and television shows), Pixar Films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Star Wars and National Geographic.
It will also feature Fox’s content such as the “X-Men” series, all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” and “The Sound of Music.” It will also have classic Disney Vault films such as “The Fox and the Hound” and “Bambi,” and will continue to add new films not too long after they appear in theaters. Think, “Captain Marvel” and the new live-action version of “Aladdin.”
However, maybe the biggest appeal to life-long Disney fans, is the exclusive Disney+ Originals set to debut with the service next month. Some titles already released include: “Star Wars: The Mandalorian,” Marvel’s “Hero Project” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” These hyped-up exclusives will surely excite some kids.
How will this change
In all honesty, Disney+ was built on the concept of nostalgia and recreating your childhood. If you grew up with Disney as a kid, check out this short trailer and tell me you don’t feel something?
Personally, I grew up watching the Disney Channel and its films. Disney was constantly on in our house. Watching that trailer gave me the chills – even though today I prefer sports over animated series and films.
According to JP Morgan, this nostalgia will lead Disney+ to quickly rivaling, and
eventually even passing, Netflix’s 139 million subscriber count. JP Morgan is
predicting Disney will get to 160 million subscribers fast.
While this is partially because of the attractiveness of Disney+’s model, it is also because Disney plans on removing all of its’ content from rival streaming services like Netflix.
Oh, and did I mention that Disney+ is going to allow users to download all of its’ available content for no additional charge. This means no matter where you are – even when you’re without Wi-Fi, you could be enjoying Disney content.
What do Parents need to know specifically?
While the launch of Disney+ could very well lead to even more kid streaming, some of the best news for parents is that the service will have parental controls. The website Deseret details some of this.
Because there will adult content
like the “The Simpsons” on the service, Disney+ will encourage a little bit of
peace of mind to parents by allowing them to block some content. (Though, how
hard is it for a tween to get that password?)
In the end I think this is going to
be a positive development for parents. You can get all of that wonderful Disney
content all in one place, and if you don’t need much other television, you can
get it all for one low price.
But don’t forget, folks. It’s still
screen time. Monitor that closely and set boundaries to how much time your kid
spends in front of a screen.
Until next time – here’s to keeping
that Disney magic alive!
A while ago, I posted a blog about how the ESRB can help you make better decisions about games your kids. However, I failed to look into how they actually rate their games. It turns out, the ESRB does not actually play the games. Instead they watch a trailer of the game produced by the video game maker. Per the ESRB’s official page, it must be “a video showing typical gameplay, missions, and cutscenes, including the most ‘extreme’ content. Unplayable content (i.e., ‘locked out’), if it is pertinent to a rating, must also be disclosed.”
Why is this important?
Because I think, based on the ESRB’s own review procedures, developers might slide features like gambling and pay-to-win loot boxes past the reviewers’ eyes. I’m not saying every game developer does this, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.
I think it’s a problem when raters don’t actually play the game. Recently, some games have been called out for having predatory practices towards a younger audience. NBA 2K20 revealed gambling style mini-game complete with roulette and slot machines to win certain items in-game through a trailer prior to release.
This game was rated E for
If children play this game and have access to a credit card, they can spend real-world money to gamble for items with in-game currency. While this may come down to a parent’s decision, I wanted to bring this to your attention. You may want to be even more careful about what games your kid plays than just relying on the ESRB rating.
Personally,I don’t think gambling should be allowed at all. It has no place in a game that allows real-world money to be used. And I think any game that is rated “E for Everyone” should not require parental oversight.
My father said those words to me about 5 minutes before I had to
leave for my first high school dance.
Despite my anger, I retreated to my bedroom where I changed into a
less revealing dress for the dance.
Hearing your own father chastise your fashion choices as a teenage
girl with a fragile self-esteem was a devastating experience for me.
Parents tend to restrict what their young daughters wear in order
to avoid drawing unwanted attention to themselves and their children. While
parents almost always have their children’s well-being in mind, at times they
can step over the line.
How parents can cross the line
For the last year, I’ve worked at a popular girls clothing store
and have watched parents tell their children what they can and cannot try on.
While it is understandable that a parent doesn’t want their
children wearing items they don’t deem to be appropriate, some parents don’t
understand why their daughters are dressing the way they do.
Most middle school and even high school girls aren’t dressing scantily
because they are seeking male attention. They dress in the clothing marketed to
them by every clothing store with a teenage demographic.
When parents don’t have an open and honest discussion with their
children about why they do not want them dressing a certain way, the children
usually end up feeling angry or insecure about themselves or their
When I was told I could not wear the dress I had picked out for the
school dance, I felt as if my father did it just to spite me. He never
explained to me why he believed I shouldn’t wear it to the dance. If he had
told me he was worried about what other people might think of me and my family,
we could’ve had a discussion that ended with me going to the dance feeling
better because I would have known he had my best interests in mind.
By limiting what their children wear, parents are restricting their
children’s self-expression and potentially leading their child to instead sneak
around their parents when they don’t approve of their clothing.
How social media affects children and parents
Today, everyone’s lives are exposed like tabloids on social media.
What a lot of young teenagers don’t understand is what they are seen wearing in
pictures on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook can affect how people think about
them as well as their family.
When a teenager posts an OOTD (outfit of the day) picture of
herself in a bikini, more people see the picture than she probably knows. One
of her friends may see the photograph and then show it to her own mother, who
will then make assumptions about how the mother of the girl in the bikini
chooses to parent her daughter.
Parents try their best to avoid being perceived as having a
careless or relaxed parenting style. Which is why social media has become every
parent’s worst nightmare. Now that children can share as many photos of their
clothing choices as they want, more parents are being criticized for letting
their children wear what many stores are selling today.
By talking to your children about how social media can impact how
people view them and their family today as well as in the future, hopefully
they will choose to be more cautious about what they post online.
How to talk to your daughter about her clothing choices
Approaching the subject on what you believe your daughter should
or should not wear can be tricky, especially since most teenage girls are
stubborn and have a very sensitive self-esteem. You don’t want to accidentally
offend them by saying that they shouldn’t be wearing a certain article of
clothing to school.
Parents.com author Kara Corridan discusses different ways to speak
to your tween daughter on what she wears. She suggests speaking to your child
about her clothing choices when she is “feeling relaxed and not in the
spotlight.” This means the best time to talk isn’t when she is trying to pick
out an outfit before school or when you are shopping. Instead, Corridan says to
speak to your daughter when you are both spending some down-time at home.
Corridan also suggests having an open discussion with your child
where you ask them questions about their style in a non-judgmental tone.
Instead of shutting the conversation down with a few words like “go change,”
ask them “why did you choose that outfit?” By understanding why your daughter
chooses to dress in clothing you may object to, it will be easier to explain
your concerns to her.
Author/educator Michelle Icard says that honesty is the best
policy when it comes to talking about this subject with your daughter. She
proposes telling your daughter that she is old enough to make her own choices
and that she should know when her clothes may draw unwanted attention.
While this approach may not be best for every parent, some need to know when to let their daughter make her own choices and when to intervene. Sometimes it’s best to let your children make their own mistakes and learn from them. Teenage girls express themselves through fashion and they need to be able to experiment with new styles. How you choose to handle what they wear is up to you.
It was the summer of 2011. The
final episode of Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life on Deck,” starring Dylan and
Cole Sprouse, was on. It marked the end of my childhood, as I knew it.
I was 13-years-old and three years removed from my other favorite tween cable shows, “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” “Drake & Josh” and “Zoey 101”. All ended, I might add, prematurely.
Growing up, my parents weren’t
always around when I got home from school. So, with my Spaghetti-O’s or Easy
Mac in hand, I watched them every afternoon. I felt like I grew up with these
actors and actresses.
When they were over, I felt lost. Like a chapter of my life was suddenly over. All the laughs, all the stories and all the countless life lessons – gone!
I knew it was time to find new show, even though the constant reruns on “Teen Nick” were some comfort. Of course, I could just wait around until ESPN decided to start speculating again if Bret Farve was going to come out of retirement. But in July, football season seemed so far way. (Yes, even at 13 I was hooked on football.)
I began exploring new channels. What
I stumbled upon was a collection of great ‘90s, coming-of-age series, like
“Saved by the Bell” and “Boy Meets World”. Thanks to Mr. Belding and Mr. Feeney
I continued to learn valuable life lessons, like, tell a close friend the truth
even if it will make them made, and, be very careful of caffeine pills.
I also came across shows more grown up shows, like “That’s 70’s Show,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Masterpieces, but I was too naive at the time to get all of the drug and sexual references went over my head. However, kids these days are exposed to more on social media. They might not be so clueless.
Today’s Tween/Teen Shows
Let’s face it. Today’s kids stream.
This means they don’t have to choose from just the 5-6 cable channels I had to
choose from. They can log into Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc… and find any
show they want.
It’s hard to single out what teens are watching from all of the data, so let’s look at the the top streamed shows on Netflix, the hottest service amongst preteens/teens. In January, Netflix released data on some of its most viewed shows. It’s measured as a percentage of all Netflix shows, with the data pulled from web browsers from January 2018- November 2018.
I’ve pulled out a few of them that
I think many teens are watching. Maybe your kid is watching one of these. If
so, do you know what’s in it?
Showtime’s “Shameless” began airing
in 2011. It wasn’t until 2017 that the show exploded on Netflix. Suddenly
everyone was talking about the ups and downs of the alcoholic Frank Gallagher
and his six children.
This show can come across as extremely entertaining and seemingly realistic. However, it is very inappropriate for preteens or teens. There’s swearing, nudity, sex and drug references throughout, make it tough watch for even some adults. While some may say it teaches important lessons, overall, we agree with this review, that parents will find it is best suited for age 17+.
“13 Reasons Why”
Originally released as a Netflix
Original in March in March 2017, “13 Reasons Why” builds a story around a topic
often left out of popular media – suicide.
The show follows Clay Jensen as he
listens to a series of audio tapes left behind by Hannah, his deceased classmate
and former love interest.
Since the show’s release, there has
been both praise and disapproval of the show’s premise. Some say it commercializes
suicide and mental health related diseases.
Recently, Netflix actually removed two scenes after the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry published a study showing that suicide by people aged 10-17 “dramatically increased” in the months following the release of the show. You can check out what some parents are saying about the show and decide for yourself if your preteen/teen is ready to watch it.
Another Netflix original, “Stranger
Things,” is a science fiction horror series that has three seasons available
for streaming on Netflix.
On the surface, the show is a sci-fi that follows events in a fictitious town called Hawkins, Indiana. It’s set in 1983 and it follows the disappearance of a young boy. Many other supernatural events also take place but there’s also a lot of I’m not diving into the show myself, but I suggest you take five minutes and watch YouTube parent Nick Shell. He has a very interesting take on the show.
This show starts one of my early favorite childhood actors, Cole Sprouse (remember, the “Suite” life shows?) “Riverdale” was released in 2017 but it’s already very popular. It’s based on the Archie Comics, but it’s much darker than the comic book you might remember. I think you may want to leave this one “on the shelf” for your preteen/teen. Some of the mysteries revolve around the murder of a local boy and an affair between a student and teacher. One reviewer called it “adult content packaged as a kid show.”
Hey, there’s always going to be new TV shows. And your kid may
know about them faster than you. What can you do? For starters, you can at least look up the
title and see what others are saying about the show.
Here are two links we thought were very useful. Keep them
bookmarked. Don’t be shy about asking your kid what they’re watching.
And don’t be afraid to have them watch an old favorite. The
“Suite Life” series never gets old. Will they ever get out of that hotel or off
the boat? I hope not.
have you ever thought “Well, at least they’re not gaming here in the (car,
restaurant, doctor’s office, bathroom, …)!”
Kiss that thought good bye. Maybe you’ve heard of or have a Nintendo Switch. It’s built to be portable, but mostly people still hook it to their TVs. However, Nintendo is about to release its Nintendo Lite. It cost $100 less, and it’s really meant to be portable. It doesn’t hook to your TV and it maintain’s its high graphic quality on the go.
But now you’re thinking, “Well, what’s wrong with that? Mario Bros.? Zelda? Donkey King?”
Nintendo has that game?
did hear? Nintendo is growing up. Yes, that’s right. Nintendo now has games on the
Switch like Batman, L. A. Noire, Doom and Skyrim. All dark cop or monster type
games. And they even have South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Want your kid walking around Wendy’s
repeating lines from that TV show?
course, you don’t have to buy those games for them. But see our other gaming
blogs to learn how easy it is for kids to get games.
The New Switch Lite
So how does the Switch Lite differ from the regular Switch? As well as being smaller, it is lighter, has a more traditional directional pad, has a slightly longer battery life, and does not have the HD rumble or IR features. It will come in new shades of yellow, grey, and turquoise. The Switch does use cartridges but it can also download games straight onto the system from the Nintendo E-shop. The Lite will be available worldwide September 20th this year.
It’s important to recognize that these systems have far higher fidelity graphics than even a decade ago. You’ll want to set up the parental controls on your child’s Switch in order to limit what your child is able to play or see.
And remember, the trend of high-quality 3D games being played on the go is not going to stop – it is only going to grow.
I first came across Barstool Sports during my freshman year of college. Thankfully it was then, and not sooner.
Parents, while you may not know very much about Barstool Sports, you may have come across their logo (seen above). Maybe you’ve seen their memes, like “Saturdays are For the Boys.” (By the way, that slogan is so popular, Barstool’s founder, Dave Portnoy, trademarked the slogan in 2016. At one point he even threatened to sue the NFL because “they jacked our slogan” when they used a similar phrase on a t-shirt design. Story is here.)
What is “Barstool Sports”?
Barstool started as a print publication in 2003. Then it focused on gambling advise and fantasy football projections. However, it was relaunched in 2007 as an internet blog that Portnoy filled with entertaining content that some found to be “rude, crude, sexist and often mean-spirited,” said Entrepreneur contributor Jason Ankeny in this article.
After selling a majority stake to the Chermin Group in 2016, the company continued to make headlines. Despite a controversy around a 2010 blog written by Portnoy that purportedly encouraged a “rape culture”, and hosting “Blackout Tour” parties in Boston where they were accused of promoting and allowing excessive and underage drinking, Barstool didn’t stop exploding.
So, ESPN jumped on the bandwagon. In October of 2017 they debuted “Barstool Van Talk”. However, the show was cancelled after its first episode because several employees, including NFL Live host Samantha Ponder, pushed for the show to be cancelled.
Are they important?
To be fair, the company does promote some charitable causes. It helped raise $250,000 after the Boston Marathon bombings. It teamed up with a Cleveland Browns quarterback last year to benefit Special Olympics Ohio.
Currently Barstool ranks number 4,700 in global internet engagement websites according to Alexa. This means it sure is popular.
The real issue is not whether the content is in poor taste or even rude, but rather what does this content mean for your kids, especially boys? Many argue this site finds it acceptable and even encourages vulgar behavior. It personally reminds me of a 6th year fraternity brother who lacks respect for women and any authority. Is this what you want your kid exposed to?
Here’s my problem…
And though Barstool, I argue, certainly fosters just plain old traditional problems, like sexism and binge drinking, it’s also big on the new problems, like vaping. In fact, Barstool Sports blogger and personality Tommy Smokes appeared on Fox News last year supporting the overwhelming favorite vaping device for teens, JUUL. (See our recent blog post here about vaping and your kid.)
Hey, the world is full of digital
influencers. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t evaluate some of them and help
your kid make intelligent choices. Sure, Barstool might be fun for some grown
up men – though I’m not endorsing it.
But you may want to keep your kid off of the “barstool” until they get
some real life experiences under their belt. I mean, you don’t HAVE to act like
a jerk just because you watch something on TV, the movies or the Internet. But
if you watch it nearly every day? And your buddies are all watching it? And no
one tells you not to?
You may know that video
game consoles are not the only machines that games can be played on. PCs and
Mac computers can also play many of the same games available on PlayStation or
Xbox. However, the most popular places to buy games for computers are not the
typical places that you might know. Over the past decade, gamers like myself
have purchased thousands, if not millions of games through the online game
distribution service known as Steam. Steam is owned by video game publisher and
developer Valve and is the primary source of game purchases for the PC or Mac.
When I was 12 years old, I
would chat with friends on Steam’s voice chat system late into the night. I had
my own account and my parents had no idea what Steam was. I asked for gift
cards and bought games to play with my friends. This included mature games that
I would have had to show ID for if I were buying it at GameStop. So, this is
something you’re going to have to look out for.
Steam is not only home to AAA (big budget and marketed video games like Call of Duty or Madden) but also independent video games – indies for short. Indie games are usually made by smaller, lesser-known developers They like having full control over their games and don’t have any need for a big publisher if they sell directly on Steam. Steam is popular because it has a wide variety of game types. Some of these are exclusively sold on Steam. But through just Steam these developers can reach thousands and thousands of players.
Steam and “indie” games
However, if you purchase an indie game, there is a risk. These games can be crass, crude, or a variety of other things not appropriate for a pre-teen/teen. However, indie games can also be some of the most creative and imaginative games on the market. I think you’ll have to do some research on each game before you decide if you want your kid to purchase. Though not all of these games show up on the ESRB rating system (see our blog about that system here), Steam does have it’s own rating system. It requires extensive vetting of both the game itself and the intentions of the developer. This means each developer has to explain the type of content that the game will contain. Steam/Valve then places a specific age rating on the game when it releases. Steam restricts access to these games by asking the user to verify their age. Truthfully, it’s not too hard to lie at this step. (Though I’ve read that Steam will track if the user is under 18 and will block any further attempts at accessing games of that nature. I don’t know how it does this.)
As I mentioned, Steam has chat functions, friend lists and other social functions that can connect users worldwide. However, these options do not have explicit parental controls. Even on games with age restrictions, these functions might still work.
Thankfully, Steam does have a parental control you can put on your account called “Family View”. There are step-by-step guides for parents to follow when accessing this feature. From Family View, parents can set parameters for the content their child can access. This includes specific items like gore or violence, games with chat functionality, profile pages, access to the game catalog, and much more. You can even use the Family Game Library to restrict access to specific games for your kid to play on that account. Each of these features is PIN protected.
The Epic game store
Steam is not the only place PC and Mac games are distributed. Last year, Fortnite developer Epic Games created the Epic Games Store, a platform similar to Steam but without a lot of the social media and chatting features that Steam possesses.
The reason I even bring up the Epic Games Store is that if your tween plays Fortnite on a computer, they already have the store installed as well. Epic included the store with the launcher for the game.
The Epic Games Store has no parental controls whatsoever. There is no way to keep your kid from accessing a mature game. However, there is a significant difference in the availability of games on the platform. There are less than a hundred games up for purchase on the Epic Games Store and many of those are still not available to play yet. However, Epic has offers for free games twice a month, giving access to potentially inappropriate games at no cost to your pre-teen/teen.
Also, every game on the
platform has an ESRB classification. This means Epic doesn’t have a rating
system…yet. In order to protect your kid from playing a game you feel
inappropriate, it is best to view more information about the game yourself like
you would if they were buying it in a store.
So, my recommendation is
to get the “Family View” account set up before you let your kid get on Steam,
do not give them gift cards or a credit card to make their own purchases (you
should purchase each game individually), and monitor their use of the social media
functions of Steam. If they are purchasing through Epic there are not as many
indie or mature games (yet), but you will still want to monitor every purchase.
If you do all of this,
you should be good. And, hopefully, you’ll join in on the games. Video game
playing can be a great way to bond with your kid. But more on that another day.
Have you seen these images on your kid’s video game box? It is the symbol for the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating system. Like movies and television, video games have a rating system. It signals to everyone which games are “age-appropriate” for various ages.
the United State, games are given ESRB ratings before they are sold. The
ratings are based on the content. Below I explain the various rating
But before I do, allow to me explain that this system is pretty much voluntary. With one exception, the rating “AO” that means essentially “pornography”, stores don’t have to check the ID of a teenager or restrict sales of games because of the ESRB rating. The courts in the United States have ruled restricting video game sales is the equivalent of restricting free speech. So, in theory, your tween can “buy” a violent, mature-only video game. Fortunately, all national retailers voluntarily restrict sales to minors for “M” games. This is probably because they would suffer a severe public backlash if they didn’t. However, any tween that really wants a game, and can play it without their parent’s knowledge, can just “aquire” it from someone older.
here’s the rating system:
E – For Everyone
games are for everyone and are typically family or party-type games. Think Wii
Bowling or Super Mario Cart. Common descriptions include Comic Mischief, Mild
Fantasy Violence and Mild Cartoon Violence. “Cartoon Violence”, by the way, means
the artwork looks very flat and cartoony. “Fantasy” means the artwork is more
E 10+ – For Everyone Ten and Up
means the game is more suited for children aged 10 or up. These games typically
have: Crude Humor, Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes, and Mild Language.
T- For Teen
means “13 or higher.” These games feature Crude Humor, Mild to Moderate
Violence, Mild to Moderate use of Language, Suggestive Themes, Sexual Themes,
and Mild Realistic or Animated Blood. Please
note, these games are allowed to feature the use of tobacco or alcohol. As I
said above, tweens are still able to purchase these games without the presence
of an adult. Most stores won’t check for
an ID if the customer looks like they are in their teens.
M – For Mature
games are typically the most controversial games because of their violent and
suggestive content. Games like Grand
Theft Auto or Call of Duty are
associated with the “M” rating. They feature Blood and Gore, Intense Violence,
Strong Language, Sexual Themes, and Partial or Full-Frontal Nudity. Parents or someone
above 17 are typically required to be present when a “M” rated game is
purchased. However, websites usually require just a button is pressed that “certifies”
the purchaser is over 17.
A – For Adult (or AO – Adult Only)
rated games are the most severely rated games by the ESRB. These games are only
available for people 18 or older and often have pornographic content. Very few
games today are given an “A” rating and very few stores like GameStop or
WalMart even sell these games.
While the ESRB rating system is important for parents to know (the ESRB provides its own “parent discussion guide” here), parents should also consider going online to look at how other parents view a particular game. Try “Google-ing” the game name and “parents” or “parent reviews”.
should also know that another important element of games that many
manufacturers will display is the Interactive Elements of the game. These can
include In-Game Purchases, Users Interact, Shares Location or Unrestricted
Internet. Unfortunately, these labels might not be detailed enough. Does
“In-Game Purchases” mean buying skins for a character, buying loot, adding
powers, or turning off annoying features?
Does “Users Interact” mean only text chatting, or is voice added? Or
video? Parents will have to do additional research whenever they see these
You will also want to know if a game is an online multiplayer game. In many cases, game manufacturers do not filter the online connections by age group, so your tween could be playing a game with a complete (adult) stranger, if you are not careful. Dr. Lauber told us a story of walking by his tween playing an online game and hearing, through the kid’s headset, several adults swearing. He immediately changed the “game playing while online” rules at his house.
I don’t want to imply that all game playing is harmful. I don’t think it is. I’m an avid video game player myself. But, I’m not a tween, and many of today’s most popular games were not around when I was young. Parents, you must be careful. Not “every game” is for “everyone”.
For more information on ESRB’s policies and how they rate games, you can visit their website at http://www.esrb.org/
see what the ESRB has to say directly to parents, try