The little ratings boxes on video games is something we always check, and while appropriateness seems a little easier to verify before downloading an app, questions of appropriateness remain. For instance, yes, the game is for ages 4 and up, making it playable for my seven year old, but does that mean he will be sharing location or interacting with other players? Player interactions is a growing consideration. Even for noncompetitive games, many allow players to interact, and if you are playing on your own server – as many Minecraft friends do – you can control who comes on, but otherwise, your child could interact with other players who they do not know. And as I have said to my kids many times, how do you know those other players are kids? They could be 40 year old men!
But I digress. Before making game decisions, now look for new tags by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board which can be easily accessed through a free mobile app. The mobile app is great for when you may not be home or may not have the box for a video game around, but want to verify that it’s okay.
These are the same unbiased people who put out the ratings box on video games, letting parents know about age appropriateness and content. The ESRB’s app for parents to find ratings wherever they are and the app contains ESRB rating information for more 30,000 video games and apps. This now includes whether a game shares location, player information or if users interact. I’d add that it’s not only for parents; my kids like looking up ratings, too, mostly because they know I won’t budge if the ratings show the game is too advanced for them.
Now if we could address in app purchases. I fear them.