The Entertainment Software Association Shares Recommendations for Parents to Help Families Safely and Responsibly Enjoy Video Games

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) surveyed U.S. adults and children (ages 10-17) to find out what Americans are asking for this holiday season and learned that kids are most likely to ask their parents for video game-related presents (72%). Requests for video game gifts are followed closely by money/gift cards (70%), clothes/accessories (66%) and electronics/tech items such as phones and smartwatches (62%). Fewer wish lists will include physical toys and games (38%), tickets and experiences (32%), arts and crafts (28%) and books (26%).

The majority of both girls (59%) and boys (86%) say they plan to ask for video game gifts for the holidays, with the top five specific asks being for game subscriptions (39%), game consoles (38%), game gear/accessories (32%), in-game currency (29%) and physical video games (22%). Meanwhile, about one in three (32%) adults say they plan to buy video game gifts for themselves or others for the holidays, with that number jumping to 57% for parents. Adults who say they will be buying video game-related presents are planning to spend an average of $485 on these gifts.

“More than 212 million Americans play video games regularly, so it comes as no surprise that games are at the top of this year’s wish lists,” said Stan Pierre-Louis, President and CEO, ESA. “Whether a family is getting a new console, updating their controllers and headsets or adding to their library with new games and expansion packs, we know video games are a great tool for families to play together and connect during the holiday season and beyond.”

As parents look to give their kids a happy holiday, it’s important for them to learn about the tools available to them. ESA encourages parents and caregivers to take these three simple steps before they purchase and gift video game items for their kids.


Check ESRB’s age and content rating information. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) assigns age and content ratings to video games and mobile apps to help parents decide which are appropriate for their kids. Parents should look out for ESRB’s three-part rating system, consisting of:

  • Rating Categories – Suggest age appropriateness. Ratings include E for Everyone, E10+ for ages 10 and older, T for Teen, M for Mature for ages 17 and older or AO for Adults Only.
  • Content Descriptors – Highlight the content that led to the assigned age rating. ESRB has more than 30 Content Descriptors to let parents know when a video game contains language, humor, violence and more.
  • Interactive Elements – Provide upfront notice about interactive features that may be important to parents. For example, the In-Game Purchases label lets parents know when a game offers the ability to spend money for additional in-game content; Users Interact lets parents know when a game allows user-to-user communication.

ESRB rating information is located on the front and back of all video game boxes and on product detail pages before purchase or download on digital storefronts.



Use parental controls. Tools exist on virtually all game devices to help parents, caregivers and individual players easily and efficiently manage the gameplay experiences of their family. Parental controls can include:

  • Filtering games by ESRB age rating
  • Managing time spent playing games
  • Controlling – or preventing – spending
  • Limiting – or blocking – communication with other players
  • PIN and password settings to prevent unwanted changes
  • Regular playtime reports


Have family conversations about responsible online behavior. Video games are a positive and meaningful outlet for billions of players worldwide. Establish and communicate clear household rules around time limits (time of day and duration of play), types of games allowed and when it’s appropriate to spend money – and then set up parental controls around these rules.


Games increasingly allow interaction with others online. Decide if family members should be able to interact with other players and, if so, with whom. Parents can activate parental controls to block online communications. In some cases, parents can curate their kids’ friends list to only allow communications with people they know in real life. If children are allowed to interact with others online, remember to discuss appropriate behavior, including treating other players kindly and respectfully, and have conversations with children about interacting with strangers online. If allowed to talk to strangers, make sure children understand what to do if they encounter another player behaving inappropriately. Remember: kids can always mute, block and report a player, and if they’re unsure they can come to an adult they trust for advice!

To learn more about nurturing an ongoing conversation around video games in your home, visit ESRB’s Family Gaming Guide and follow the ESRB blog. Steps the video game industry is taking to help protect its player community can be found on the ESA website.

About the ESA

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) serves as the voice and advocate for the U.S. video game industry. Its members are the innovators, creators, publishers and business leaders that are reimagining entertainment and transforming how we interact, learn, connect and play. The ESA works to expand and protect the dynamic marketplace for video games through innovative and engaging initiatives that showcase the positive impact of video games on people, culture and the economy. For more information, visit the ESA’s website or follow the ESA on X/Twitter @theESA.

About the Survey Methodology

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 20-October 6 2023 on behalf of the Entertainment Software Association. For this survey, a sample of 500 adults age 18-65 and a sample of 501 children ages 10-17 (recruited through their parents) from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The survey sample was designed to be nationally representative using quotas for age, gender and region, with targets from the U.S. Census.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.4 percentage points for both adults and children surveyed.


Crosby Armstrong