ESRB celebrates 20 years of Rating Games

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Gaming has come a long way in 20 years. In the early 90s, the picture of a gamer was usually a male in the early 20s sitting alone in front of computer screen for hours. Today, 59% of Americans play video games. Most of them are not playing alone. Gaming is becoming a social activity with people playing online with friends and families. While playing games is a great way for families to connect, it can also be a source of conflict. Many of the most popular games such as Halo or Call of Duty are not for kids. Sometimes, trying to find a game that works for the entire family is a challenge. Thankfully, the ESRB is there to help families make the right choice.

esrb rating mobileThe ESRB, Entertainment Software Review Board, is a non-profit, self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps so parents can make informed choices. They began rating games back in 1994. Over the last 20 years, ESRB ratings have appeared on nearly every computer or video game sold at retail in North America.

The ESRB is more than just ratings. On their website and mobile app, parents can read reviews and find out the reasons behind the rating. In our house, I turn to the ESRB and Common Sense Media, when I have questions about a game. What I love is before my kids ask to play a game they check these sites as well.

Over the last few years, I have talked with Dona Fraser,Vice President of ESRB Privacy Certified, several times about protecting kids privacy while playing games as well as how to choose the best games for your family. She always has lots of great advice for parents. To celebrate ESRB’s 20th Anniversary, I have pinned some articles about games and kids.

Finally, the ESRB asked me to be a ESRB Parent Ambassador. I am excited to be a part of an amazing group of parent bloggers. Below is the list of the Ambassdors. (Thank you techsavvymama  for the list!) Please check out their blogs for more information on choosing and playing games safely.

ESRB PARENT AMBASSADORS

Monica Vila, The Online Mom

Mary Heston, Mrs. Video Games

Leticia Barr, Tech Savvy Mamas

Sarah Kimmel, Tech 4 Mommies

Tina Case, Parent Grapevine

Ana Picazo, Bongga Mom

Eric & Camila, Geek Junior

Anne Livingston, Kids Privacy

Caryn Bailey, Rockin’ Mama

Beth Blecherman, TechMamas

Kimberly Kauer, Silicon Valley Mamas

Kris Cain, Little Tech Girl

Lori Cunningham, Well Connected Mom

Kathleen Bailey, Gaggle of Gamers

Talking with Kids about Online Privacy Settings

CSID_cyberSAFEBlogSeries-Backtoschool-01Thank you to CSID for inviting KidsPrivacy to take part in their Back to School Campaign! In the rush to join a new social network, kids often don’t take the time to investigate settings. Many popular apps will allow kids to open private accounts or choose to make a post private. Below is a link to my article where I discuss the different privacy options available on popular apps. For more information on privacy settings, check out my page containing Parenting Guides for Popular Apps and Websites.

Need more tips? On Thursday at 11 am (PSD) log on to Twitter and follow #IDTheftChat where CSID and Private Wifi will be talking about wi-fi at school and how to protect your child’s personal information.

 


Talking with Kids about Online Privacy Settings

Backtoschool_082514This guest blog post is a part of our cyberSAFE blog series focusing on back-to-school security, privacy and identity topics. It comes from Anne Livingston, the founder of Kids Privacy, which provides parents with information and resources to teach kids to share smart and stay safe online. This fall, she is publishing her first book – Talking Digital: Tips and Scripts for Parents Raising Kids in a Digital World.

When I download a new app, I like to figure it all out first. I take my time, look through settings, and read reviews. My kids have a different approach. They just dive in. Often, this means moving as rapidly as they can, ignoring the settings to get to the fun part. But taking time to explore the settings is a critical piece to protecting privacy.

In the past, teens were able to rely on privacy through obscurity. With so much information online, most communications were lost in a sea of content. Technology is developing faster and better ways to search. Now, people can look for things online via an image or location. These public photos and posts are becoming easier to find. This visibility can lead to unintended audiences. Parents should talk with their kids and teens about the importance of limiting information.

Continue Reading….

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Back to School: 5 tips for getting your digital house in order

calendarI am not ready!  As you can see from my lack of posting I have enjoyed my summer. Although I have appreciated these quiet, relaxing summer days, I have dug a bit of hole for myself. This past week has been a mad scramble to turn in forms, dig through school supply bins and brave a trip to the mall. I am not only playing catch up in the real world, I have been a bit neglectful in the digital world as well. If you are like me and enjoyed summer perhaps a little too much, here a few tips for getting your digital house in order.


Create  or Update Family Media Rules/Device Contracts

One of the best digital parenting tools is to create a family media agreement and/or a device contract depending on the age of your child. If you have one already, now is the perfect time to review it. These contracts provide an opportunity for parents and kids to talk about expectations and values around online behavior.

Check in

After updating their contract, take a tour. Depending on your family’s contract, they can show you around or you can check it out yourself.  Either way, it is important that they are beside you so you can ask questions. This is not about getting them in trouble but creating an opportunity to guide them and talk about sharing smart and staying safe online.

Set new passwords

Parents should talk with kids and teens about the importance of setting and periodically changing passwords on their apps and devices. Kids and teens should not share passwords but some do. As the move on to a new grade, friendships may ebb and flow. So, the rule is new grade – new password.

Review Privacy Settings

Most kids are looking to share with their friends and classmates online not the entire world. Most apps have some privacy protections. They should make sure their privacy settings match their perception and when at all possible set their posts and profiles to private.

Update those apps

Kids should not ignore those updates for apps or their operating system on their devices. Many of these updates contain important security patches that will protect their device from viruses. While updating, remind them that malicious applications are often published outside of trusted app stores so kids should only download apps from legitimate sources.


For more back to school tips, check out…

Building a Digital Dialogue and Relationship with Our Kids – by a Platform for Good
Back-To-School Online Safety Tips for Families – by CSID
Family Tip Sheets – by CommonSense Media