The Entertainment Software Rating Board and the Parent Teacher Association have joined forces to launch a new cross-country campaign to help educate parents about game ratings, parental controls and online videogame safety.

The new campaign will encourage PTAs across the U.S. to teach parents in their communities about the ESRB rating system and the parental controls built into videogame consoles, as well as how parents can mitigate concerns about online gameplay. As part of the initiative, “A Parents Guide to Videogames, Parental Controls and Online Safety,” a new booklet which includes material from Andrew S. Bub of, is being distributed to all 26,000 PTAs in the country and is also freely available for download from the ESRB and PTA websites.

“Videogames continue to be a popular source of learning and entertainment for children, but today’s games provide players with new abilities to interact with one another via online play,” said PTA National President Jan Harp Domene. “Just as with the internet, that kind of interaction carries with it some risks. Using the ESRB ratings and setting up parents controls are important, proactive steps that parents can take to make sure their kids are playing games they deem appropriate. And being aware of the risks posted by online-enabled games and what can be done to keep their kids safe when playing online is crucial information for parents. We’re very pleased to be offering them this guidance with the help of ESRB.”

“Three in four parents use the ESRB ratings regularly when selecting games for their children, and the parents control features available in all the newest game systems give parents more control over the games their children play than ever before,” added ESRB President Patricia Vance. “But it’s important for parents to fully appreciate what the experience of playing games today encompasses. Many online-enabled games allow players to interact in new ways, including online competitions or chatting with one another via text, audio or video. Parents should understand what type of content their children might be exposed to when playing games online, and what steps they can take to shield their children from content they deem inappropriate.”

The new campaign is “among the most extensive to date in terms of ground level support for communities nationwide,” according to the ESRB. Along with the booklet, a webcast featuring Domene, Vance and Bub will take place at 7:00 p.m. EST on April 23, which will including explanations of the ESRB rating system, parental controls for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP and Windows Vista and a discussion about online safety.

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