Microsoft launches Consumer Panel

As part of its Get Game Smart public service campaign, Microsoft has announced the formation of a new consumer panel made up of 10 teens and their parents, who will help educate other families on ways to enjoy safer interactive entertainment at home.

The Get Game Smart Ambassadors represent families from eight cities across the US who, through the use of an interactive Web site, are demonstrating a commitment to safer video gaming. The 10 Ambassador teams were chosen by popular vote based on a short video they submitted.

“As parents, we teach our kids the importance of wearing a bike helmet and buckling their seatbelt, but for some reason we’ve missed the boat on teaching our kids similar precautions for online and video game use,” said Get Game Smart Ambassador Jason Richardson from Brentwood, Tenn. “My stepson and I both love to play video games, so we jumped at the chance to get involved in creating fun, safer experiences for gamers of all ages.”

The Ambassadors will contribute tips and information to the campaign’s Web site and blog.

Some of the Ambassadors tips for maintaining a healthy media diet in the home include the following:

Get on the same page. “Talk openly with your kids about their media habits and set boundaries that encourage safe, balanced and fun entertainment experiences.” — Laura Moorhead, Ambassador

Encourage balance. “Make sure your children enjoy outside activities that keep them active and busy. School work, sports and other extracurricular activities come before game time.” — Lisa McDaniel, Ambassador

Set priorities. “Set minimums on school grades that must be earned in order to play video games.” — Bonnie Severson, Ambassador

Get involved. “Play video games with your children to get a sense of their behaviour online.” — Jason Richardson, Ambassador

Set limits. “Familiarize yourself with the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings and use parental controls to select age-appropriate content.” — Martin Waters, Ambassador

“As a parent myself, I understand we tend to turn to other parents for advice on the suitability of video games or other digital entertainment for our children,” said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices Division at Microsoft. “By working hand in hand with this group of parents and teens, we hope to inspire a more productive dialogue with families, communities, the media and the industry around healthy and balanced media use.”

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Microsoft launches Consumer Panel