Posted by Robbie Bach President, Entertainment and Devices Division
Today’s digital world is an exciting place for kids, offering a mind-boggling array of high-tech diversions. Recent statistics speak volumes. According to recent PEW studies, 97 percent of teens play video gamesand 65 percent of online teens use social networking technologies. Xbox 360 hosts one of the largest social network on the planet with over 17 million members on our Xbox LIVE service, up 70 percent in 2008.
Microsoft is proud to be a leader in the online gaming space, and we are constantly expanding the boundaries of what technology can do to keep kids – and more than a few adults – entertained. But as a father of three, I understand parents’ need to be involved in what their kids view and play, and how much time they spend in front of a screen. At the same time, it’s clear that parents are busier than ever and sometimes can struggle to keep up with their children’s rapidly evolving digital skills. That is why at Microsoft, as part of our commitment to corporate citizenship, we’re working to empowering parents with easy-to-use parental controls. With Xbox 360, parents can take a few quick and easy steps to turn on our built-in Family Settings to control what their children are doing and when. While these tools are powerful, they are not a panacea. It’s equally important for parents to have an ongoing dialogue with their children about their digital media use. Although some parents are aware and actively use these parental controls, others remain unaware or don’t know how easy they are to use. To help raise awareness, we launched the Get Game Smart campaign last month along with Best Buy and more than a dozen children’s media advocacy groups.
This public service campaign is intended to make parents aware that they can take control. Get Game Smart provides an easy and helpful resource for families to find advice from leading child safety experts on issues such as cyber-bullying and navigating social networking sites. Parents and caregivers can also find short, step-by-step videos on parental controls and the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) ratings. There are activities and challenges that families are encouraged to take part in to spark an open dialogue and to set rules about safety and gaming–while the video game console is turned off.
I’m extremely proud of this Get Game Smart program and our ongoing work at Microsoft to deliver powerful yet easy-to-use parental control tools across our products. Click here to learn more, and please let us know what you think of the program.