Several times in my past posts I have discussed how much I love the PSP Go by Sony. Today I would like to talk about video games and age appropriateness. When I was growing up, there were no ratings for video games and TV shows, or parental warnings on music. I grew up with the original Atari generation. I remember when all we had was Pong, Breakout and Missile Command.  Not much to rate there, right?  The technological advancement of video games over the last thirty years is absolutely amazing, particularly the graphics. Games look like real life and some are violent, inappropriate, scary, and downright wrong. Yes, I just said that.

I was in my early teens when Tipper Gore began her crusade to save the children from all things inappropriate. It was too late for my friends and I; we were already listening to music that would make a parent’s jaw drop and ears bleed. Today is a different story; I am a parent of two and definitely don’t want my kids hearing some of the stuff that I did at an early age. Now It is even worse because it is coming from all directions at all times of the day: TV, radio, internet, movies, video games, you name it. When I was growing up the weekend meant something more than no school. It meant Saturday morning cartoons. Why? Because that was the only day that had a big block of good cartoons and other shows to watch.  It just wasn’t available all day at the touch of a button, besides, we didn’t have a button, and we had to get up off the couch, walk to the TV and turn the dial. But I digress. Now it’s 24/7. This means that parents have to be constantly vigilant if they want to monitor what their kids are exposed to.

I could discuss all media content, but today I want to stick with video games since I advocate the PSP Go – I will save the rest for another post.

When it comes to determining what’s appropriate content for our kids, it’s not cut and dry; there is a lot of grey area. The decisions about what to allow and not allow come down to each individual parent and his/her beliefs and parenting style. I try to find balance. I must admit that I do not stick to the ratings but I do try to stick with the rating “E” (everyone) for my kids. It is sometimes difficult because I have an eight-year-old son and soon-to-be six-year-old daughter and, in all honesty, I think I am more lenient with the content for my son. At any rate, I want to guard them from inappropriate content for as long as I can. They are going to be exposed to everything I want to shield them from eventually, and that’s fine; it’s just part of growing up. I just want to do my best to make sure that they aren’t exposed to it too soon.

For the ratings above “E,” such as E10+, I view the game and read the warnings to see why it was rated that way. I definitely try to avoid all games beyond that. I have learned some of the higher rated games are not only rated for content, but also require more advanced skills, particularly sports games. However, if the content is ok and the kids have the necessary skills, I will let them play the game; I’m not going to keep them from playing NHL 2010 if they want to play it.

The bottom line is that it’s up to the individual parents to decide what is appropriate for their children. I do believe that some parents are too strict and shelter their kids a bit too much, but who am I to judge.

Happy Gaming!
– Kevin Williams
VP & Dad