How to Choose a Video Game for Children

Four Parts:Get Information on What They WantDecide if They Should Be Playing the GameMake Sure the Game is Compatible with Your SystemFinalizing Your Decision

Choosing a video game for your children is not as complicated or daunting a task as it might initially seem. With a little research, you can find some titles that they'll enjoy with contents that you can approve of.

Part 1
Get Information on What They Want

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    Gather information about what they want. Have your kids asked for a specific video game? Then you at least know where to start. If they haven't, don't worry, there are video games made for almost every single interest. If they're into fantasy / medieval movies or TV shows, there are games for that. If they like football, science fiction, or pirates? There are games for all those things. Go with what you know your children are into.
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    Get outside advice. Go to your local game store and discuss your children's interests with the local salesman. You'll be surprised how happy they are to help guide you through the process of picking a good game.

Part 2
Decide if They Should Be Playing the Game

  • If your child is 4 years old, then they probably shouldn't be playing Manhunt. However, with hundreds of video games and not nearly enough time or money to try them all, how can you know if a game is safe for your children? Well, there are several ways.
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    Use the ESRB rating system. On the box of every video game should be a large letter in a white box. That's the rating for the game. It will help let you know, generally, what sort of negative content is in that game. The system goes as follows;
    • EC = Early Childhood. These are games intended for young children. If your child is around 3-5 years old, you may want to look into these games.
    • E = Everyone. As such, this game likely has no blood, little to no combat/violence at all, and no cursing or sex. It's literally acceptable for everyone.
    • E10+ = Everyone 10 and Older. There may be a little cartoonish combat or fantasy violence, but nothing that is unsuitable for your child.
    • T= Teen. It might have some cartoonish combat or maybe a few curse words. Perhaps at some point, someone steps off-screen and comes back with their hair in a tussle and a woman walking out the other door. However, generally, this is just a slightly more edgy version of E and, as such, almost never contains anything terribly unsuitable.
    • M = Mature. This is the legendary grey area. Being that a person must be at least 17 to purchase mature games, most are given to younger children as gifts. Mature covers many video games and the reason it is rated mature could be a variety of things, from blood to abundant cursing to partial nudity and sometimes all three. If you look closely at the back of the box, in another white box, it should explain what aspects of the game got it the M rating. Consider those before purchasing.
    • AO = The rare adult only rating has only been given to a very few video games and it means they are so bloody, carnal, or sexy that an M rating cannot suffice. Needless to say, an AO game is virtually never acceptable for children.
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    Consider your child, not your child's age. What can your children handle and what is too much for them? Some games may get an M rating because of a single optional instance of partial nudity; if you think your child is mature enough to handle that, then there is no reason not to let them have the mature game. On the other hand, if your child is extremely scared of doctors, even a T game featuring a surgeon may be too much. Just play to your child's strengths and weaknesses. You know your kids; use that.
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    Don't worry about what the other children are allowed or not allowed to play. Their parents make different decisions and could be right or wrong.
    • Just because Timmy isn't allowed to play "Super Smash Brothers" doesn't mean there is anything too mature about the game for your child to play it.
    • At the same time, if Timmy is allowed to play "I have no Mouth and I must Scream," that doesn't mean you need to let your child play it too. (And if he's playing "I have no Mouth" and his parents let him, his parents are insane.)

Part 3
Make Sure the Game is Compatible with Your System

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    Check what system(s) you've got. Nothing is more annoying than having to return a game because it's for the wrong system. Know the system you have and what games play on it.
    • Today, there are 3 major players in the video game console market.
      • Sony, which makes the PlayStation. The system is generally black, the buttons are squares, triangles, circles, and the letter X. This system marks its games with either a blue or transparent bar on the top that will say Playstation.
      • Nintendo, which makes the Wii or Wii U. Wii games have slightly larger boxes than the other two and will have a milky white bar at the top with the word Wii in gray letters. Wii U games have a blue bar at the top with the word Wii U in white letters. Nintendo also makes the DS and 3DS, which are smaller systems that have two screens. DS games have a white bar with the word Nintendo DS in black letters at the left side, while 3DS games have a white bar with the word Nintendo 3DS in black letters at the right side; with the "3" colored red.
      • Microsoft, which makes Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Don't be confused by their horrible ability to number things; Xbox One is actually the latest system they've made. Their games will have a white and green bar and will be marked with the word Xbox on them.
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    When it doubt, look on the box for the console name. It will always be on there.

Part 4
Finalizing Your Decision

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    Make sure you don't accidentally buy a sequel to a game your child hasn't played. While this is okay for games like Mario Kart or Castle Castlevania, starting off on Metal Gear Solid 2 wouldn't be the greatest idea. Look for numbers after the title and ask the store manager if it is a "stand alone" game. That just means you can play it without having to play the earlier games to understand it.
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    Keep the receipt. Nobody is perfect and you don't know if you'll need to return it within a week, so play it safe.
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    Purchase the game and give it to your child.


  • Not every country uses the ESRB rating system. If you live somewhere other than the United States or Canada, which uses the ESRB system, do research to see what rating system your country uses.
  • If you have time, play the game a bit yourself. Not only will this give you a better handle on what's in the game, but you can beat your children at it when they start playing!
  • Play with your children. Nothing will please them more than knowing you take an interest in their hobbies.
  • Never be afraid to trust your kids with something a little more mature. Just don't go overboard and let them have a game rating M for "Violence, blood, gore, intense gore, nudity" if they're only 9.
  • Games don't always work properly. They might, for example, not start when put into the game console. If this is the case, return it to the store and get a new copy of the game.
  • If you buy your child a 3DS, you may want to have them play with the 3D function off. The 3D function can hurt the eyes of small children. If you have a small child and/or a smaller budget, consider instead getting them a 2DS console, which is cheaper and does not have the 3D function, while still being able to play the games available on the 3DS.
  • Some consoles allow you to play games from older systems on them. For example, you can play Wii games on the Wii U. Also, both the Wii and Wii U, along with the 3DS, allow you to download games from older consoles from their "Nintendo eShop" service.

  • Don't always be too reliable on the game rating. Some times your Child is mature enough to play an M rated game when they are 14 but some may not as they might be irresponsible as of their personality.

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Categories: Video Games | Parenting