Parent's Guide to GTA 5: Should You Let Your Kid Play?

Every parent faces the challenge of determining which video games are appropriate for their children.

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5), and it's online multiplayer component, GTA Online, have been stirring up debates for years due to their mature content and realistic gameplay. This article breaks down GTA 5's key elements, helping you decide if it's the right choice for your teen.

Over 160 million copies of GTA 5 have been sold, making it one of the most popular video games ever. It is well-known for its detailed graphics and captivating storyline, and also for being an insane amount of fun to play.


Set in the fictional state of San Andreas, players are free to explore, engage in missions, and partake in various activities, which we'll discuss below.

Age Rating and Content Warning

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First things first, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates GTA 5 as M for Mature, designed for players aged 17 and up. It warns that game features blood and gore, violence, mature humor, nudity, strong language, sexual content, and use of drugs and alcohol.

Yes, GTA 5 features all those things! Here's a bit more detail on exactly how they feature in the game:

  • Violence: In GTA 5, violence is a central aspect of gameplay. Gunfights, car chases, and explosions occur frequently as you play the game. Players can also engage in criminal acts such as carjacking, robbery, and murder, which result in further encounters with the in-game law enforcement as well as rival gangs.
  • Mature Themes: GTA 5 is steeped in mature themes, as the game's narrative revolves around crime and illegal activities. Players take on the roles of criminals who carry out heists and conduct other illicit operations. However, it is crucial to note that these themes are part of the game's fictional world and not presented as morally correct or to be emulated in real life.
  • Language: The dialogue and interactions in GTA 5 feature strong language, including pofanity and derogatory terms. These elements contribute to the game's gritty and realistic atmosphere, but they may not be suitable for younger or more sensitive audiences.
  • Substance Abuse: Characters in the game use and sell drugs, and players can consume alcohol, which leads to impaired driving and other consequences. These depictions are intended to reflect the darker side of the game's criminal underworld and the consequences of substance abuse.
  • Sexual Content: Players can encounter sexual content through optional activities or during specific story missions. While this content is intended for mature audiences and contributes to the game's adult-oriented atmosphere, it is essential to be aware of its presence and potential impact on players.

Check For Yourself

Being one of the most popular video games today, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of GTA 5 video clips available online. You could check some of them out to see exactly what the game is like for yourself. Twitch has a GTA 5 directory, as does YouTube. We also have tons of GTA 5 videos on our own channel.

How to Decide

Weigh your child's maturity level and the game's age rating, as well as the content discussed above, before making a decision. If you do allow your teen to play, perhaps supervise their gaming and engage in open conversations about the game's content and the distinction between fiction and reality.

Matt Gibbs

Matt first came across the Grand Theft Auto series when he rented GTA III from his local video store, and it's been an obsession since. After playing through every GTA game since then, he decided to start GTA BOOM (initially in preparation for the launch of GTA V and as a way to document the hype, news and rumors about the then upcoming game. When Matt isn’t editing the content on BOOM, you’ll find him working on the server or making other improvements to the site, helping to update our library of guides and make them more useful for readers. Find Matt on LinkedIn or Twitter.