Many middle school students are drawn to video games that are rated higher for mature content. Whether it's due to curiosity or peer pressure, parents of these students may feel conflicted about allowing their children to play these games.
On one hand, they want to respect their child's interests and independence. On the other, they want to ensure their child's safety and protect them from exposure to inappropriate content.
If you're a parent of a middle schooler who wants to play higher-rated video games, here are some tips to guide you through the process:
Research the game's content
Before purchasing or allowing your child to play a game, research it online to get an understanding of its content. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates video games by age appropriateness and provides detailed descriptions of the game's content, including violence, language, and sexual content.
Have an open conversation
Talk to your child about why they want to play a specific game and discuss the game's content. Encourage them to share their views and opinions, and respectfully share your own concerns. This is also an opportunity to discuss boundaries and expectations around playing higher-rated games.
Play the game with them
This gives parents the opportunity to better understand the game's content and context, while also spending quality time with their child. Playing alongside your child can also create an opportunity for you to model responsible gaming habits and engage in meaningful conversations about the game's themes and messages. It can also provide an opportunity to address any questions or concerns your child may have, and help you establish a positive and open communication with them about media consumption. If playing with your child is not possible due to scheduling or other constraints, consider watching gameplay footage online or reading reviews of the game to gain a better understanding of its content and themes. And, as always, remember to set boundaries and prioritize your child's safety and wellbeing above all else.
If you decide to allow your child to play a higher-rated game, set limits around how much time they can spend playing it and where/when they can play it. Consider creating a family media agreement or contract that outlines these limits and expectations.
Monitor your child's gameplay
Regularly check in with your child while they're playing to ensure they're not exposed to inappropriate content or engaging in problematic behavior. Consider playing the game alongside them or watching gameplay footage online to get a better understanding of what they're playing.
Use parental controls
Most game consoles and devices have parental control settings that allow you to restrict access to certain games or online content. Take advantage of these features to ensure your child's safety and to reinforce healthy gaming habits.
In conclusion, exploring higher maturity-rated games can be a challenging decision for middle school parents, but by following these tips, you can make an informed decision that supports your child's interests, while also ensuring their safety and wellbeing.