Call of Duty Parents Guide: Should You Let Your Kids Play?

Video game controller call of duty vanguard

Call of Duty Parents Guide: Should You Let Your Kids Play?

Key Points

  • Call of Duty is a popular video game franchise known for its action-packed violence and realistic combat scenarios.
  • The franchise has been around for twenty years and has released new titles almost every fall.
  • The latest game in the series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, is a remake of the 2011 game and is highly anticipated for the 2023 holiday season.
  • Parents should consider the M rating and mature themes of each game before allowing their children to play.

Should parents let their kids play Call of Duty? It’s a question that many families grapple with in today’s world of PlayStation, Xbox, and PC gaming. Call of Duty is a hugely popular franchise known for its action-packed violence and realistic combat scenarios, making it a controversial blockbuster among young gamers. But is your young gamer ready to start playing, as well? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the factors parents should consider before deciding whether to allow their children to dive into the latest Call of Duty game.

What Is Call of Duty?

Call of Duty Mobile
A screenshot from

Call of Duty: Mobile

, a free-to-play entry in the popular game franchise.


The Call of Duty video game franchise is a hugely popular series of action-packed first-person shooters dating back twenty years now. Call of Duty was first introduced for Windows computers in 2003. It has since become one of the most iconic and successful gaming franchises in the world, spanning consoles and generations alike. The franchise is famous for its annual releases, with new titles coming out almost every fall for two decades running.

Call of Duty games always focus on a military conflict — either real or imagined. This includes everything from World War II to modern-day combat to futuristic settings alike. Each Call of Duty game offers a unique storyline, characters, and missions. Most — but not all — are standalone. However, they all share a common emphasis on fast-paced combat, realistic weapons, and multiplayer modes. These multiplayer modes allow players to battle against each other (and complete strangers) online. 

While the greater focus is on the multiplayer modes, Call of Duty games also include a single-player campaign mode. These are done solo, with no help from friends or other strangers playing online. (Some entries do feature a cooperative mode where players can team up and tackle missions together.) During the campaign, single players follow a story and complete various objectives revolving around the game’s particular war of choice.

Call of Duty Series Chronology

Over the years, Call of Duty has evolved to include various sub-series and spin-offs. The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series is the most popular example, with Call of Duty: Black Ops a close second. Broadly speaking, the franchise has a massive fan base. From Esports competitions to merchandise lines to Internet memes, Call of Duty is truly a cultural touchstone for gamers of a certain age. Its enduring popularity will continue to shape the world of video games, regardless of whether your kids play it or not. Here’s a roundup of the series’ chronology so far.

Every Call of Duty Game

Game TitleRelease DatePlatform(s)
Call of Duty2003Windows, macOS, N-Gage, PS3, Xbox 360
Call of Duty: Finest Hour2004GameCube, PS2, Xbox
Call of Duty 22005Windows, macOS, Xbox 360, J2ME
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One2005GameCube, PS2, Xbox
Call of Duty 32006PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, J2ME
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory2007PSP
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare2007Windows, macOS, Nintendo DS, PS3, PS4, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One, J2ME
Call of Duty: World at War2008Windows, Nintendo DS, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, Windows Mobile, J2ME
Call of Duty: World at War – Final Fronts2008PS2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 22009Windows, macOS, Nintendo DS, PS3, Xbox 360
Call of Duty: Black Ops2010Windows, macOS, Nintendo DS, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, J2ME
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 32011Windows, macOS, Nintendo DS, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360
Call of Duty: Black Ops II2012Windows, PS3, Wii U, Xbox 360
Call of Duty Online2012Windows
Call of Duty: Ghosts2013Windows, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare2014Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Black Ops III2015Windows, macOS, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare2016Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Call of Duty: WWII2017Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Black Ops 42018Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Remake)2019Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Mobile2019Android, iOS
Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War2020Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Call of Duty: Warzone2020Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Call of Duty: Vanguard2021Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (Remake)2022Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Call of Duty: Warzone 2.02022Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III (Remake)2023Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

The Latest Call of Duty Game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is the latest game in the long-running franchise. A loose remake of the 2011 game of the same name, the new version follows similar remakes of the previous two games in the series released in 2019 and 2022. Interestingly, while sharing the same name, settings, and characters, the game is a fresh take on the 2011 release.

The game will be a highly sought-after title during the 2023 holiday season — among both teens and adults alike. Its November release date practically guarantees its placement on many holiday wishlists this year. If your child is a gamer, then there’s definitely a good chance they’ll ask for it this Christmas. Here’s what you need to know about the franchise before you buy.

Call of Duty Rating: What Parents Should Know

PS4 gaming console playstation 4

Call of Duty

games are released annually for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC platforms.


Now that you have a better understanding of Call of Duty and its basic lore, let’s go over some pressing questions you may have about the game and its appropriateness for your kids. We’ll touch on the cost of each game, some of the thematic ideas of the game, an overview of the more violent missions in the franchise, the ESRB rating of the game, and the safety of the game and its online counterpart. Below, you’ll find the answers to these questions and everything else parents need to know about Call of Duty.

1. How Much Does Call of Duty Cost?

Each new Call of Duty game currently retails for $69.99 at launch. This is true of the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC versions of the games alike. This is pretty standard for most AAA (or big-budget) games.

When a new Call of Duty game comes out each year, the previous year’s game tends to drop in price quite drastically. For instance, 2021’s Call of Duty: Vanguard can be found as cheaply as $20 for a new copy and even less for a used one.

There are free Call of Duty games, as well. Call of Duty: Warzone and Warzone 2.0 are free-to-play battle royale games in a similar vein to Fortnite or PUBG: Battlegrounds. Call of Duty: Mobile is also free to play but for smartphones instead of consoles.

2. What Do You Do in Call of Duty?

In a typical Call of Duty game, your primary task is to control a soldier from a first-person perspective. This means players see what the character sees from their point of view. You will usually only see the character’s arms and lower body during gameplay. You’ll follow a storyline in the single-player campaign, with cutscenes and dialogues guiding you through the plot.

The main objective is to engage in combat and complete missions using a series of heavy weapons and clever strategies. Your primary activities involve shooting enemies using a variety of realistic weapons like rifles, pistols, and grenades. Missions vary but often include objectives like eliminating enemy forces, rescuing hostages, or defusing bombs.

You can move your character using the joystick or keyboard and aim your weapon with the right stick or mouse. You can also switch between different weapons and equipment as needed. The game often includes a health bar, and taking damage reduces your health, so you need to find cover or use healing items to survive. These mechanics carry over into the multiplayer versions of the games.

3. Is There Violence in Call of Duty?

gamer on computer monitor setup video games

Call of Duty

games are incredibly violent with realistic combat scenarios.

©Arsenii Palivoda/Shutterstock.com

If it hasn’t been made clear yet, violence is a huge aspect of a typical Call of Duty game. Players engage in combat scenarios where they use realistic firearms to eliminate enemy soldiers with lifelike graphics and bloodshed. Some of the most violent tasks in past games include intense gunfights, fiery explosions, brutal, up-close melee attacks, graphic injuries with blood splatter and wounds, long-range shots with slow-motion impact, and even the players carrying out terrorist attacks.

It goes without saying that these violent acts are shown unflinchingly and in great detail. The violence is a central part of the gameplay and contributes to the game’s intensity. However, it is clearly fictional and presented as such in the context of the video game. The graphics may be realistic for a video game, but they’re a far cry from even the most middling CGI in a blockbuster film or television series. Still, parents should be warned.

4. What Is Call of Duty‘s Age Rating?

The latest in the Call of Duty series — the remake of Modern Warfare III — has been rated M for Mature (17+) by the ESRB. This is one of the most severe ratings a game can receive beyond AO for Adults Only (18+). The ESRB justifies this rating by citing Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, and Use of Drugs within the context of the game.

If you’re unfamiliar with the ESRB and its ratings (E for Everyone, E10+ for Everyone 10 & Up, T for Teen, M for Mature, and AO for Adults Only), you can consider them comparable to the MPAA’s ratings for film or the TV Parental Guidelines’ ratings for television. An M-rated video game is akin to an R-rated film or a TV-MA television program.

An M rating is not uncommon for a Call of Duty game. The only Call of Duty games to receive a T rating from the ESRB? Call of Duty (2003) and Call of Duty 2 (2005). After these early titles, the game franchise became decidedly more mature in its content and themes. Parents can safely assume that if it’s a Call of Duty game, the ESRB is going to rate it M.

5. Is Call of Duty Safe for Kids?

While every parenting style is different, it’s not an overreach for one to assert that Call of Duty is not appropriate for young kids. The franchise’s intense violence, realistic firearms, and mature themes are not going to be found in any other type of children’s television programming, in children’s films, or in children’s literature. 

The game features graphic violence — including shooting, explosions, and melee combat. This can be disturbing for kids. It also includes realistic firearms and weapons, which may not be suitable for children to be exposed to. What’s more, the game often explores mature themes like war, terrorism, and other complex narratives that aren’t appropriate for kids.

We haven’t even mentioned multiplayer modes, either. These online versions of the game are far less monitored — especially in the way players interact with one another. Therefore, when given the ability to talk to others (including strangers) in online modes, there’s a likelihood your child will hear more offensive language and inappropriate content than anything found in the actual game itself. 

Is Call of Duty Okay for 16-Year-Olds or Younger?

hyperx cloud stinger wireless
It’s up to the parent to decide whether their teen can play

Call of Duty



Call of Duty and its many sequels, spinoffs, and remakes may be acceptable for older teens under 17, as long as they have your parental discretion. Parents need to consider the kind of content discussed above and how it compares to their child’s maturity level carefully before allowing them to play the game.

It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing scenario, of course. Some Call of Duty titles offer less violent options or modes that can be more suitable for younger players. Additionally, some parents may be okay with their teen playing the offline campaign mode, but caution against their child going online with strangers.

The Verdict: Should You Let Your Kids Play Call of Duty?

No matter your choice, parents should exercise caution and review the game’s content and rating before making a decision. You might even want to consider watching videos of gameplay on YouTube before deciding for certain. There’s also the option to supervise your teen as they play and decide based on what you see. No matter what method you choose, it’s important to pay attention to the games your kids are playing.

At this point, you may be leaning toward a Call of Duty ban for the young children in your household. But, before you make your choice, it’s important to reiterate the massive popularity of Call of Duty. While you may decide against the game, many other parents allow their teens to play it with little discretion or supervision. There’s always a chance that forbidding your child from playing the game could bring about some unforeseen ramifications in their social life.

Ultimately, the decision to allow your kids to play Call of Duty should be based on their individual maturity level as well as your unique judgment. Regardless of whether you say yes or no, you, as a parent, still need to engage in open discussions with your teenagers about the game’s content. This helps establish guidelines and healthy boundaries for responsible gaming. With this, you can ensure you and your child are on the same page about your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the right age for Call of Duty?

Call of Duty games are almost all rated M for Mature (17+) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). This rating is mainly due to the games’ intense violence, realistic weapons, and mature themes. However, some parents allow responsible teenagers as young as 16 to play, depending on their individual maturity levels.

How can I monitor my child's online interactions during Call of Duty?

To make sure your child stays safe while playing Call of Duty online, your best bet is to use parental controls. These parental controls appear on both gaming consoles and PC versions of the game. Their purpose is to restrict online interactions and screen time for your child’s safety. It’s also a good idea to communicate with your child regularly about responsible online behavior.

Is it true that playing Call of Duty can make children more aggressive?

The impact of violent video games on child behavior is a topic of ongoing debate among researchers. While some studies suggest a possible correlation between exposure to violent games and increased aggression, other studies have found that many other factors influence a child’s behavior beyond what they do for entertainment. Parental guidance, education, and a balanced approach to gaming are believed to be more important to a child’s behavior than any game.

Why are parents concerned about Call of Duty games?

The primary concern with Call of Duty games is their extreme levels of violence. These games feature graphic violence, often involving firearms, explosives, and close combat. Mature themes like war, terrorism, and complex narratives are also prevalent throughout the franchise, making them potentially unsuitable for younger children.

Are some Call of Duty games less violent than others?

Yes, there are varying levels of violence throughout the Call of Duty franchise. Each game is characterized by its own storyline, setting, and level of violence. Some may have less intense violence than others, so it’s important to research specific games to understand their content and age-appropriateness. For example, the online battle royale game Call of Duty: Warzone is hardly more violent than Fortnite or PUBG: Battlegrounds.

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