Microsoft has launched a new public awareness campaign called Get Game Smart, designed to help parents manage their children’s gaming in “safer, healthy and balanced ways.”

The software giant has partnered with Best Buy, the Entertainment Software Association, the ESRB, the National Institute on Media and the Family and numerous others to provide the program, which offers parents a wide range of resources to help them keep up with their children’s gaming habits. The site explains how to use the parental controls on the Xbox 360 and Windows Vista, features an “Expert Tips” section with commentary by people like ESRB President Patricia Vance and Dr. David Walsh of the NIMF as well as blog posts, contests, a newsletter and more.

“I’m a dad, and I know how important it is for parents to get involved with their children’s video gaming and media experiences, not to mention feel equipped to make sure those experiences are as fun and safe as possible,” said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division. “Get Game Smart demonstrates Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to this effort and complements the award-winning Family Settings tools we built into our products like Xbox 360 and Windows Vista. These offerings allow families to get the most enjoyment out of today’s digital entertainment.”

Microsoft is also seeking parents and teens to serve as “Get Game Smart Ambassadors” who will help spread the word about making educated choices in entertainment. Parents and kids can team up to create a short video detailing their approach to a “responsible digital lifestyle,” which can then be submitted to the contest via the Get Game Smart site. The winner will be awarded prizes including an Xbox 360 system and selection of family-friendly games, Zune media players, digital cameras and that perennial contest winner favorite, cash.

The site is of limited use for PlayStation 3 and Wii owners and the presence of the NIMF is a bit dubious, but overall it’s a good foot forward for Microsoft in the ongoing battle to reassure politicians and parents that the gaming industry isn’t out to turn children into murderzombies. To learn more, check out

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