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What Video Games are Good for My Kids?

March 9th, 2010 - Category: Video Games

We’ve talked in a previous post about some of the detrimental impacts that video games can have on children. Their addictive nature and the fact that they are a time muncher are just a couple of the side effects that can come from video games. However, we also mentioned some of the positive effects that video games can have on children such as higher level thinking skills, processing, and learning to be resourceful.

Because video games, when played in moderation, can have a positive influence on children, it’s important that we as parents are aware of what is out there. When your child wants to purchase a game, how do you know if it is appropriate for their age or, even more importantly, your families standards. Here, we will discuss some of the things to look for in a game to determine if it is a good fit for your child and also list a few games that are on the “good” list for children.

Video Game Ratings

You are at Wal-Mart and your son comes to you with a green plastic “DVD” case and says he “HAS” to have this game. Some of you will recognize from the color and graphics on the case that the game is for X-Box. Some X-Box game covers are actually silver and white, the platinum edition games, but this not important to the point we’re trying to make.

In this pivotal moment, you have to make a decision. Do you disregard your son’s request and simply say, “we can’t afford it?” Perhaps he has been very good and has done his chores faithfully for a long period of time and you feel like he needs to be rewarded. You want to buy him the game but you are not sure it has violent or graphic content.

There is a quick remedy to this situation. In the bottom left corner of each game, there is a box image that contains the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating for the game. The front of the game will contain one of 7 different ratings. These ratings are explained below.

ESRB Early Childhood EARLY CHILDHOODTitles rated EC (Early Childhood) have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
EVERYONETitles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
EVERYONE 10+Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
TEENTitles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.
MATURETitles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
ADULTS ONLYTitles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.
RATING PENDINGTitles listed as RP (Rating Pending) have been submitted to the ESRB and are awaiting final rating. (This symbol appears only in advertising prior to a game’s release.)

Games Making the MJC “Good” List

Though these ratings from the ESRB can be helpful in making a decision on a particular game that you don’t know anything about, there may still be times where you personally feel that something is not appropriate for your child even though it lines up with his age group on the box rating. So, we’ve compiled a list of fun games that are definitely family approved. Most of these are geared towards multi-player games that the whole family can enjoy (the list is not all inclusive and discretion should still be taken by the parent to determine whether the game fits your families standards).

  • Mario Kart Wii (fun racing game that can accommodate up to 4 players. Gather shells, bananas, lightning, and other ammo to throw at your competitors and impair their racing to move ahead.)
  • MLB 09: The Show (baseball simulation in which the player controls one or all of the players on a Major League Baseball team or some select Minor League Baseball teams)
  • Cars for X-Box 360 (Help Lightning McQueen win the Piston Cup Championship and cross the finish line first in this family classic.)
  • FIFA Soccer 10 (Choose your favorite teams, club or country, and learn to shoot like Rooney. This is a fun technical game with many updated features from the 09 edition.)
  • Wii Sports (Wii Sports seems to be everyone’s favorite Wii game. Encompassing baseball, bowling, boxing, golf and tennis, the games are simple but addictive. Best of all, it comes free with the console and up to four players can compete at once.)
  • Wii Fit (an exercise game consisting of activities using the Wii Balance Board peripheral. Wii Fit is currently the second best selling video game in history and is fun for the whole family. This game offers a fun and easy way to exercise.)

We hope you enjoyed this list and find benefit in the information regarding game ratings. What are some other video games that you and your family enjoy playing together?

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