Microsoft, Best Buy Urge Parents to 'Get Game Smart'

Microsoft and Best Buy have announced their "Get Game Smart" program, a public service campaign aimed at helping to educate parents about the video games their kids play and to emphasize age-appropriate gameplaying.

Games sold in big box retailers in the United States carry rating labels produced by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, or ESRB. The ratings clearly define what age group the games are made for, and also identify what content in the game some players or parents may find objectionable.

"Undercover shopper" programs put on by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) show that big-box retailers increasingly restrict sales of Mature (M)-rated games to minors, but many parents don't seem to attach the same association to an M-rated game as they might to an R-rated movie, for example.

But the Game Smart campaign doesn't stop with educating parents about ESRB rating labels and what they mean. The public service campaign also seeks to create a dialogue between parents and kids to discuss safe online practices, setting screen time limits and making rules about what kids can and can't do when they're playing games.

The GetGameSmart.com Web site features hints and tips for parents, a "pact" for parents and kids to sign online, sweepstakes challenges, a "Just for Kids" area and more.

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