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Is This Game and App OK for My Kid to Use?

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Technology is growing in leaps and bounds these days. Whereas my dad, who is still alive, never had a television, his great grandchildren have apps and games galore in addition to their computer and television.

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New apps come out almost daily and new games, although not quite as quick, are coming out almost every week. How are parents ever to keep up with this so that they can protect their children from the ones that are scams and dangerous to their child’s health? This is no easy job but there are resources out there to help you make good choices.

The most common resource that people here in America use to determine how suitable a video game is, is put out by an organization called the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).  This is both an organization and a rating system that rates every video game that is submitted to them.

This industry formed group started in 1994 when there was talk about the government taking over the regulation of the video game industry. The industry did not want the government involved so they did this on their own.

Game makers are not forced to submit their games to this board for a rating but most stores will not sell games that aren’t rated.

When submitting a game the creator of the game fills out a questionnaire concerning possible sexual scenes, obscenity and anything else that might be found offensive.

Along with the questionnaire the entire video and lyrics as well as any additional material that might be bought for the game are submitted to the board for review.

Three reviewers review the game looking for things like sex, drugs and violence. The raters are usually homemakers, not hardcore gamers.

The only requirement for being a reviewer is that you are at least 21 years of age and not connected to the gaming industry.

The ratings are based on three sections. The first one of these is the ratings category which gives guidance on the age category for each game or app. These are divided into the following six categories.

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  • Early Childhood: Content is intended for young kids.
  • Everyone: Content is suitable for the general public.
  • Everyone 10+: This content usually contains more fantasy or mild violence, mild language or a minimal number of suggestive themes but is generally suitable for ages 10 and up.
  • Teen: A “T rating for teen usually indicates that the game or app is suitable for those aged 13 and up despite the fact that it may have violence, crudeness and rudeness as well as a small amount of blood. Some suggestive themes as well as crude humor and infrequent use of strong language may appear.
  • Mature: This is consider appropriate for those 17+. Blood and gore, intense violence and strong language and/or sexual conduct may be present.
  • Adult: This is suitable only for adults 18 and older because it may contain graphic sexual content, and prolonged scenes of intense violence or gambling with real money.
  • Not Rated: These are those games that are not rated yet but are hoping to get rated in the near future.

This rating is often used by developers and their advertisers to indicate that they will be submitting it to the ERSP.

The second part of the ratings that the ERSP does is that of Content Descriptor. Content Descriptors may give you a heads up on what is in the app or game that gave it the rating it did. For example, the following descriptors may be added.

  • Alcohol Reference – Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages
  • Animated Blood – Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood
  • Blood – Depictions of blood
  • Blood and Gore – Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
  • Cartoon Violence – Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted
  • Comic Mischief – Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor
  • Crude Humor – Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including “bathroom” humor

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Finally, the last category has to do with user generated contented and each game that is rated will tell you if there is any and what happens to it.

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