Monday, November 19, 2007

Entertainment Software Rating Board

With the holidays fast approaching, most parents are scrambling to search for the perfect gift for their children. At the top of most lists are, of course, video games.

How will parents, or Santa for that matter, know which ones are appropriate? Thanks to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, it's easy to find out.

The ESRB is a "non-profit, self-regulatory body" that provides information on content and age-appropriateness of games. You can find such information by simply looking at a ratings box on the front of almost all games on the market. Ratings range from EC (Early Childhood 3+) to AO (Adults Only 18+).

On the back of game boxes, you'll find a more detailed explanation on the game's rating, such as "language," "violence," or "blood."

Newer game consoles, such as Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and Sony PlayStation 3, come with ESRB parental controls that can help a parent protect their child from inappropriate content.

ESRB offers detailed explanations on how to set up these controls.

For example, on the WII system, you simply do the following:

  1. Access the Wii System Settings.
  2. Click on the blue arrow to reach the Wii System Settings 2 menu options.
  3. Choose “Parental Controls” and select “Yes.”
  4. Enter the 4-digit PIN and select “OK.” If you have forgotten the PIN, select “I forgot” to answer the secret question.
  5. Now you can adjust the “Highest Game Rating allowed” to be played on the Wii console.

Find more information on WII parental controls here.

For Microsoft Xbox 360, use the following guide:

  1. Using the Xbox 360 controller, select “Family Settings, Console Controls.”
  2. Select “Game Ratings.”
  3. Select the maximum ESRB rating category you deem appropriate for your children.
  4. Select “Set Pass Code” and insert a password.
  5. Select “Done” from the Console Controls screen to lock settings.
  6. Select “Yes” to activate.

More information on Xbox settings can be found here.

With so much violence plaguing today's games for children, the ESRB rating system can be an invaluable tool for parents, especially during the holiday season.

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