Focus on the Family

How to Choose Video Games Wisely

In the ever-changing landscape of video gaming, take the time necessary to ensure that your child engages in �safe� games.

by Vicki Caruana, Chris Caruana, Olivia Bruner

The video game industry has a self-regulated rating system that, unfortunately, is less than reliable for parents trying to protect their children from offensive content. A recent report by the National Institute on Media and the Family gave the current rating system a grade of B- with regard to accuracy, and a grade of D on enforcement with minors.

1. Check the rating of the game.

2. Read reviews.

By reading reviews, you can know what a game is like and what a game may have in it. If you read reviews, then you can tell whether or not it will appeal to your children. Many reviews also include the opinions of expert gamers who judge whether the game is well made and appropriate for children of younger ages. Sometimes, reviews are biased rather than based on facts. You should always try to find a friend who has video-gaming children.

3. Rent video games, if possible.

You should always follow a try-before-you-buy policy. Whether you rent it from a game rental outlet or play it in the store, try to test a game before you spend good money on it. Some stores will have a customer service representative who can tell you whether a game is appropriate for young children.

4. Play/watch with your child.

It may not always be your first choice in entertainment, but spend some time at least watching your child play a video game. If there is objectionable content, you'll see it for yourself and be able to comment on it.