ESRB: Keeping Our Kids Safe

Posted by on Mar 2, 2013

ESRB: Keeping Our Kids Safe
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Appropriate Content for Kids

film ratings We’re all familiar with the MPAA film rating system – it’s been around for years, guiding concerned parents to safe content for their kids. My parents followed it closely when my brother, sister and I were kids, never allowing us to see movies that they deemed were too much for us to handle.  In fact, I don’t believe my parents have ever seen an R-Rated movie. I never paid attention to film ratings until my kids were born. Then, once these bright, shiny new people were cradled in my arms, and I thought about the big, bad world out there, this rating system become very important. It was my job as their mother to protect them from, well… everything. I knew that life would start to rub off on these pure little souls, but I was determined to put it off as long as possible!

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Video Game Ratings

The ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) is a non-profit, self-regulatory group that was created in 1994 in order to provide a similar rating system for video games and apps. (For further information and an explanation of ESRB’s rating system, go here.) I’m sure many of you are aware of them. They have a lot of great resources for parents and a very informative .pdf about Parental Controls. When I worked on the LEGO Universe team, I was part of the process of getting LEGO Universe’s ESRB rating. It wasn’t easy. We had meetings, agonized over content, spent hours and hours preparing and responding to the ESRB. LEGO was determined that LU would be safe and appropriate and live up to the LEGO brand, and NetDevil was just as determined. As a parent and developer, this was doubly important to me. We poured so much heart and soul into that game, and I could see the good that we’d made. We eventually got a rating of E 10+. Erik and I are just as determined to provide a safe, age-appropriate, fun experience with Gummies Playground. Both Google Play Store and iTunes have their own rating system so Gummies Playground will be rated in both stores. But, some are afraid that this Short-Form isn’t enough as it relies on developer honesty. What do you think? Now, I’ll admit, I don’t follow ratings as closely now that my kids are teenagers. I know who they are now. I’ve lived and laughed and cried with them. I go by my gut much more than when I was that new, terrified mother. Do they see things they shouldn’t occasionally? Yes, but I can’t control every aspect of their lives any longer and these moments provide me with opportunities to talk to them, to connect with them, like I discussed in my Creating Moments blog last week. I actively look for those moments to discover my kids and help make them who they are. Even though I may, at times, choose to disregard ESRB or MPAA ratings, I still use them. They are a great guideline to begin the determination of whether or not something’s appropriate for my kids. Do you? Will having an ESRB rating on Gummies Playground help you make the decision to allow your kids to play? Further Reading [a]listdaily Interview with Patricia Vance of ESRB photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc  
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