Back when I was in school, almost 100 years ago, I remember clearly when the campaign to label music as explicit ignited. “This is infringing upon the First Amendment!” I thought. It was parental control over one of the few areas of natural teenage rebellion. I hated it and probably called is fascist, like I did everything else adults did to control kids.
So, now I’m a parent and surprise, surprise, my opinion has changed a bit.
As a parent, I need guidance. I don’t have time to read every book, see every movie or play every video game before my kids do. I don’t have the time to do that for any book, movie, or video game. I need help with that, which means I now rely on ratings and reviews to help with my decisions, even if I decide to allow my kids to experience these things anyway. Before I buy books, I read the reviews, before I take my kids to the movies, I check and rating and reviews, and before I buy a video game, I check the ratings, including the breakdown explaining the rating. If I’m okay with the issues in the ratings, I’ll allow the game anyway, but having the help to make an informed decision makes me feel so much better than saying, “No because I said so,” or caving into the argument from my kids that everyone else plays this game and why can’t they.
Today the Entertainment Software Rating Board turns 20, which makes me feel old. ESRB is now old enough to play any video game they please. But what the teenager in me appreciates is that this is a self-regulating body, which means it isn’t owned or controlled by the government, but is funded by the gaming companies themselves. After 20 years, it’s very clear that it is working. As a parent, I’m grateful for the help without appearing like a in-home dictator to my kids.
I recently became an ESRB Parent Ambassador. This post was not paid, and the opinions are my own.