Get Informed About Gaming

While kids use the family computer for various activities, they probably never use it with as much gusto as when gaming. Good habits, smart software choices and age awareness can help make online gaming safe, appropriate, fun — and even educational.

Take an active role in your kids' gaming with these healthy habits for parents:

  • Educate yourself: Find out what games your kids play and what sites they visit to access those games. Determine the time investments your kids' games require. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (or MMORPGs) often reward players based on the cumulative amount of time spent playing them. You may decide that games like these are unhealthy for your kids.
  • Take part in the experience: Observe the imagery and language used in games and the way your kids play. What are your kids' attitudes toward the game? Toward other players? Play with your kids, and be sure to model good behavior. Playing can help you decide whether it's a healthy game for your kids to enjoy.
  • Balance time playing games: Set some guidelines to balance the time your kids spend in and out of the game. You may elect to limit playing time or require that your kids spend equal time outdoors.
  • Keep personal facts private: Make sure your kids practice discretion in sharing personal facts about themselves during in-game chats and conversations or when creating public accounts.
  • Use parental controls: Use parental controls to control the types of online games available to your kids. By setting a limit on games by Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating, you can stop your kids from accessing games with inappropriate content.
  • Use in-game controls: Many online games allow chatting, and some allow voice chats. If you find the language used by other players online to be offensive or too adult, use in-game controls to mute or block messages from those players.
  • Don't forget game consoles: Online play isn't limited to the computer. The Microsoft XBOX™, Nintendo Wii® and Sony® Playstation 3 game consoles all allow online game-play. Each of these systems features parental controls based on the same ESRB rating. Consult your console's guidebook to learn how to enable them.