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Guide to Choosing Kids Video Games Wisely

— From our monthly newsletter, Let America Know. (Subscribe to monthly safety tips and information here.) —

As entertainment publishers crank out the big video game titles just in time for the holiday shopping season, kids everywhere are hoping that the neatly wrapped gift underneath the tree is the latest release. For eight years running, video games have ranked as the third most requested holiday gift item.

But nearly 40 years after their invention, video games are still a mystery to many parents. We’re here to save the day by arming parents, grandparents and other family members with a guide to choosing video games wisely for the kids on their shopping lists.

Gaming Ground Rules

Parents Cheat Sheet to Video Games

So your child wants a video game. Now what do you do? What games are appropriate? How do you choose? When should kids start playing? And with the holiday season a frenzied time of year when retailers offer crazy discounts and major game releases, it can also be overwhelming for shopping-weary parents.

Here are some helpful tips to set everyone up for successful gaming.

  • Gaming is another parenting challenge.
  • Play WITH your children.
  • Be sure to set limits.
  • Look beyond the ratings.
  • Watch for negative effects.
  • There are positives to gaming.

To read each in full detail, view our December newsletter.

Online Resources for the Best and Worst Video Games

  • Commonsense Media offers its 2014 Holiday Gift Guide
  • CBS News names the best and worst video games this holiday season, including the ratings and why the games are problematic
  • This list from NY Daily News contains recommendations for kids who are fans of different types of games, ranging from sports to fantasy to history and beyond./li>

See the list on WATCH

We want your input. Are there video games you wish were on these best and worst lists? Share your thoughts.