2008 video game report card parent guide
Getting Ready for MediaWise Family Gaming                                   Download Parent Guide (PDF)

If you’re a parent, this year brings good news for you. Parents have never before had so many effective tools and resources to help make video games a healthy part of family life. From parental controls that allow you to limit the kinds of games your kids play to a wealth of online information explaining game content, you have the power to make healthy video choices for your family.

But all of the parental control technology in the world is no substitute for carefully thinking about the role of video games in your family’s life and establishing a healthy dialogue with your kids. Whether your child has yet to begin gaming or is already an old pro, it’s never too late to reclaim the powerful role of parent in your child’s gaming life.

Start by making sure all the adults in the home are on the same page. That way, you can ensure that your children are following the same standards no matter who is in charge at the moment. Together, ask yourself some of the bigger questions:
  • What role do we want game playing to have in our house?
  • What are some of the benefits we would like to see come out of game play?
    What are we most worried about?
  • Where do we want game playing to happen?
  • What sort of content are we comfortable with?
  • Are we comfortable with online play?
  • How much time do we want our children to spend gaming?
With the answers to these questions you can begin to decide the limits you make for your kids’ game play. It’s also extremely important to discuss the limits with your children. Make sure they know what’s allowed and what’s not. Make sure they understand why you’re setting limits—because not all video games and video game experiences are meant for kids. Finally, be sure they understand the consequences they will experience if they don’t follow the rules of the road.

As your kids grow, their relationship with video games will too. Technology evolves, new games are released, and new options pop up nearly every day. Stay informed. Use the ESRB tools and resources. Surf the Web to find out what other parents are saying. Above all, talk with your kids about the games they play and the ones they want to play. This guide provides parents with a quick reference to the information you need to make safe choices for your family. Following a few simple steps, you can become MediaWise and develop healthy family togetherness. You’ll know what to do every step of the way—from entering a retail store to purchasing the right game, bringing it home and finally enjoying it with your family.

  © National Institute on Media and the Family.