America’s children are avid consumers of movies, music and video games. But sometimes their entertainment choices may not be appropriate for them. How is a parent to make sure that the latest hit movie, hot video game or chart-busting album is right for their child?
The Coalition of Entertainment Retail Trade Associations (CERTA), an umbrella group for movie theatres, video and video game stores and music retailers, encourages parents to take a few simple steps to ensure that entertainment is appropriate for their family:
• First, look for the advisory. All video games and most motion pictures carry a rating. Complementing the rating is a “content descriptor” that explains why the game or movie got the rating that it did. Music that contains explicit content displays a “parental advisory” sticker on the album cover or an “explicit” warning in the online download catalogue. Use these advisories to make sure the video game, movie or music is appropriate for your child.
• Second, watch movies, listen to music, and play video games with your children. (Sure, it may not always be easy or even welcomed, but it is important to make the effort.) Talk to your children. Make sure they understand what the ratings and labeling are about, and what they can learn from them.
• Third, set appropriate limits. Like any form of entertainment, music, movies and video games should not be permitted to interfere with schoolwork, exercise and other important activities.
• Finally, for those lucky enough to have an Xbox 360 video game console, check out the parental controls. You can set the console so that Mature- and Adult Only-rated video games will not play on the system. (The soon-to-be-released PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution will also contain parental-control mechanisms.)
Entertainment can educate, amuse, inspire and challenge. There are movies, video games and music for every age group and interest, but not every choice is right for every audience. Using these guidelines, parents can make sure that their choices are the right ones for their family.