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On the Issues: Society and Technology 

Play Smart, Play Safe

Technology and tools empower parents to choose interactive entertainment that is right for their families.

Published: April 8, 2008

Is Your Family Set?
Safety is no game. Learn how to guide your children to entertainment that is healthy as well as enjoyable.

Make a PACT Today (.pdf file, 1.08 mb)
Set guidelines for use of media in your home by writing a family agreement on parental involvement, access, content and time.

Protect Your Family
Get resources to make gaming and the Internet safer for you and your children.

Video games are an increasingly rich and multifaceted form of interactive entertainment enjoyed by millions of adults as well as young people today. Many parents are understandably concerned, however, about children being exposed to inappropriate content in some games. A few games are particularly troubling because they let players pretend at violent and antisocial behavior.

We at Microsoft agree that not all games are appropriate for all ages. We are committed to providing technology and tools that help ensure safe, age-appropriate gaming experiences.

For example, Xbox was the first gaming platform to offer built-in parental controls. These user-friendly Family Settings allow parents to set limits — different ones for each child — on access to games, movies and TV content. A new Family Timer feature even lets parents put overall limits on how long kids can play.

Xbox Live allows parents to manage their children’s online communication and the people they play with online. Easy-to-use parental controls are incorporated into Windows Vista, as well.

These controls support the leading game ratings systems in use around the world, including the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) system used in the United States. Games with an ESRB rating of AO, for “adults only,” are simply not allowed on Xbox.

We encourage parents to talk with their kids about the rules of game play. To aid in these discussions, we created a parent-child contract called PACT. It helps families reach agreement on the level of Parental involvement; the amount of Access children can have, including who they are allowed to play and interact with online; the types of Content children are allowed to play or watch; and the amount of Time children can use media. (PACT can be downloaded at no cost -.pdf file, 1.08 mb .)

We have joined with organizations such as the National PTA and Boys and Girls Clubs of America to help educate parents about safe and age-appropriate gaming. We have partnered also with retailers such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart to ensure that age ratings of games are clearly explained and consistently observed in stores.

While we recognize the value of freedom of expression for game developers and publishers, we also actively support the right and responsibility of parents to make educated choices about interactive entertainment for their children. Informed and equipped with the tools they need, parents are the first and best lines of defense for ensuring that kids are engaged in safe and age-appropriate play.

We are committed to providing parents, teenagers, schools and others with the information and the tools. And we are committed to developing interactive entertainment that is healthy and fun for the whole family.

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