For Immediate Release
|FORMAT FOR PRINTING
SHOULD I PLAY OR SHOULD I GO?
SHURTLEFF SAYS VIDEO GAME RATINGS HELP PARENTS DECIDE
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) President Patricia E. Vance launched a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign today to encourage parents to use video game ratings to decide whether a game is appropriate for their children and family. The television and radio ads will begin running in Utah in the coming weeks.
"As a father, I know about the tough decisions parents face over what video games they will allow into their homes. It's important for parents to look closely at the ESRB ratings before letting their kids play any game," says Shurtleff. "As a fan of video games myself, I'm proud to be helping educate Utah's parents about this important tool."
The ESRB video game ratings employ a two-part system. Rating symbols on the front of the game package provide an age recommendation, such as EC (Early Childhood 3+), E (Everyone 6+), E10+ (Everyone 10 and up), T (Teen 13+) and M (Mature 17+). The back of the package has content descriptions next to the rating that explain what may have triggered the rating or may be of interest or concern to parents.
"Just like movies and TV shows, video games are created for a diverse audience of all ages," said ESRB president Patricia E. Vance. "That is why it is so important that parents remember to check the rating when purchasing games for their children. We are very proud to have the support of Attorney General Shurtleff in reaching out to Utah's parents and educating them about the ratings."
Carolyn Gardner is one parent who relies heavily on the ratings. The North Salt Lake mother and her husband have 5 children who really like video games. "The ratings help me feel more comfortable that a game is ok for my kids to play," says Gardner. "We don't purchase M-rated games anymore."
Since its inception in 1994, the ESRB ratings have become a trusted resource for parents when choosing computer and video games. Recent studies commissioned by ESRB and conducted by Peter D. Hart research show that 83% of parents with children who play video games are aware of ESRB ratings, and three quarters use them regularly when buying games.
Eric Forsgren owns a store in Bountiful that sells video games and uses the ratings with his customers. He also forbids employees from selling M-rated games to anyone under age 18. "It's the same reason I won't sell an R-rated movie to a kid," says Forsgren. "As a parent, I don't want my children to go into a store and buy something they shouldn't have."
A complete list of ratings, content descriptors and their definitions can be found on the ESRB website at www.esrb.org. The ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB independently applies computer and video game content ratings, enforces advertising guidelines, and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.
"While many parents are aware and using the ratings, more can and should be done," adds Shurtleff. "Working with ESRB, we hope these ads will help arm parents with the information they need to make the right choices for their children and families."
Shurtleff is also warning parents to carefully monitor their children while playing online video games. The Attorney General's Office oversees the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and task force members have found predators using Internet video games to find children.
"Many parents mistakenly feel these gaming areas pose no threat to their children," says Chris Ahearn, Utah ICAC Director. "Online gamers are sending Instant Messages and even talking to each other on headsets. Predators find the games an easy way to become friends with young people."
The Attorney General's Office has been actively involved with helping parents protect their children from inappropriate material. In 2003, Shurtleff helped to bring Netsmartz, a state-of-the-art Internet safety curriculum into Utah schools. More information about Netsmartz can be found at www.netsmartz.org.
Shurtleff also supports the Child Protection Registry, a state website which allows parents to keep pornographic pictures and solicitations from their child's e-mail accounts. The registry is offered as a free service by the Department of Consumer Protection. The public can sign up by going to www.kidsregistry.utah.gov.
Public Service Video - ESRB Ratings (at www.youtube.com)