The LEGO Company is always striving to create safe and fun play environments for children of all ages. The same thought is behind all LEGO video games where we aim to make fun and challenging gaming experiences suitable for children. This section of the website is created to guide you, as a parent, through the wonderful world of children’s gaming. The section is created with inspiration and help from the ‘Entertainment Software Rating Board’ (ESRB) who is the expert when it comes to assigning age and content ratings for video games and mobile apps so parents can make informed choices as to which are suitable for their children and family.
Know What’s in the Game
Checking a game's rating is a great way to gain insight into its content and decide about a game's appropriateness for your child. If you'd like to go even deeper you may want to take advantage of additional information available.
Another good idea for help you and your children, is to have a conversation about the computer and video games played in your household. Below is a framework, but the goal is to have an honest dialogue through which you learn more about your children's games, and they learn more about your concerns, particularly about playing games online.
Get to Know the Games
What about your child's favorite games is especially fun, interesting or challenging?
What's appealing about the games your children want? The story or characters? Game features?
Understand the Features
Are any of the games you've discussed online-enabled (able to be played over an Internet connection with other players)?
What online features and components are possible? Multiplayer games? Player-to-player chat? Purchasing new content?
Has your child ever seen or heard inappropriate language or comments from other players when playing a game online? How does he or she react?
Set Some Ground Rules
Should your child receive your permission before playing a game online?
Are there parental controls set up regarding which games can be played, and whether they may be played online? Do you know whether the games your children want allow for player chat, and if so which type (text, audio, video)? Does your child know what to do, and whom to contact, if being bullied online by another player?
Helpful Tips for Parents
Check the rating. Checking for a game's rating - on game packages or online - is a great place to start in terms of gauging its age-appropriateness. If you want more info, many of the games also have rating summaries that describe in detail exactly what type of content a parent would want to know about, along with specific examples.
Check game reviews. Game review websites are another great source, often providing screen shots, videos and other resources that can help a parent get acquainted with a game's content.
Set parental controls. Parental controls built into the game console or handheld device itself also let parents restrict games by their rating. Some consoles' parental controls even let parents decide when and for how long their child can play, who they can play with, or even let you "mute" or disable the ability for your child to hear the game's online chat (which can at times be pretty colorful). Check out these guides for instructions on setting up parental controls.
Be vigilant and monitor. Just as parents pay attention to the people their children interact with in the real world, that same vigilance is required when their children play or interact online. Certain console-based online gaming services provide parents with the ability to approve friend requests and set up approved lists of friends their child can play with and talk to.
Speak up. In addition to blocking a player who behaves in an inappropriate manner, you can also notify a game's publisher or online service about the offender. Check the online service's or game publisher's Terms of Service for instructions on how to file a complaint about another player, and be sure to include as much information and evidence as possible about the player in question.
Be involved. Parental involvement is the best tool parents have in managing and monitoring online safety. Stay involved, keep your computer or game system in a common area so you can keep an eye and ear on the action, and talk with your kids about what they're playing and whom they're playing with.
Look out for mods. Some games offer players the ability to modify their content, sometimes in ways that are not consistent with the ESRB rating. These changes can be made by using a special cheat device or a free downloadable program called a "mod."
Don't disclose. Make sure that your children know not to divulge personal or financially sensitive information about themselves or other family members when completing profiles, purchasing items or interacting with others online. And personal information isn't merely limited to things like home address and phone number; kids should be mindful about revealing other aspects of their lives like where they go to school, who they hang out with, where their parents work, or what their plans are for the weekend.
Set limits. Set and discuss limits on what your children can do when playing games online and how long they are allowed to play - online or off.
Beware of cyberbullies. Cyberbullying is a serious and growing problem, and can be just as real and hurtful as the traditional kind. Watch for warning signs that your child is the target of cyberbullying (such as changes in computer usage, increased anxiety or depression, reluctance to go to school and/or socialize), and be sure your child knows and uses proper "netiquette" when playing games online.
For more information on the topic please visit www.esrb.org or www.pegi.info (Pan European Gaming Info)