Safe Online Gaming: Educating Children Gaming Online

When we were younger, the games we played usually didn’t have a multiplayer option. The internet was slow and sometimes even a luxury. A game that had a multiplayer option, had it as a bonus, sometimes developers even added it as an afterthought. So safe online gaming wasn’t a thing. However, that is not the case today, and most games have online play options. One could argue that the most popular games kids play today are online—games like Fortnite, Roblox, Call of Duty, etc. 

But as fun as those games are, your kids could be exposed to a wide range of potential risks when it comes to online gaming. Things like cyberbullying, inappropriate mature content and even online predators. 

In this article, we will explore some common dangers while gaming online. We will also explore ways you can protect your kids and teach them about safe gaming while playing games online.

Safe online gaming, what are the dangers?

Cyberbullying

Nearly 42% of kids are bullied online, and almost one in four have had it happen more than once, and it is prevalent in First Person Shooters like Fortnite and Call of Duty. As a lot of information we give on the internet, especially in online games, is anonymous, some people see it as a “carte blanche” as far as their behaviour is concerned. Unfortunately, this anonymity can lead to extremely poor sportsmanship and bullying their fellow teammates as a source of fun. Cyberbullying can take many forms, commonly called “whispering,” where players send targeted, hurtful messages. 

Privacy

Another one is staying private. When your kids create their online profiles, make them as far removed from their real lives as possible. Names like “Trent12Queens” give away too much info to prospective hackers or bullies. Please don’t give out any personal information to strangers, especially passwords that can seriously endanger their online profile. This also applies when you sell your PC or Console. Some people have invested serious money into their libraries; if they only remember to clean our hard disks, they would avoid hacks and breaches.

Webcams

Since day one, these have been a security nightmare and far too easy to hack. We see no reason your child should have one on his gaming rig. Whether it is an Xbox, PS5, or PC, there is no need to have your kid own one, especially if they are under 13. All you need is a cool-looking headset and nothing more. If you already bought a gaming laptop with a webcam, try to cover it or use some cyber security software that offers protection.

Lootboxes

The worst offenders regarding loot boxes and hidden fees are free-to-play online games. Most of them don’t put their core gameplay behind a paywall so that their user base remains high. Other things, however, are locked behind a paywall and can get pretty expensive and exploitative. For example, Fortnite had to pay $520 million for tricking kids, violating their privacy, and manipulating them into spending money. So you must be careful never to give out your credit card information to a game. If you do spend money on a game, make it single-use only. Also, lock your credit card behind a password.

Safe online gaming tips

As a parent, there is plenty you can do to make your child’s gaming awesome and fun while also staying safe. One of the first things you should do is get to know what your kid is playing. Check out what games are age appropriate and what their ratings are. Google, or BING if you want to get freaky, is a friend and almost all games have a review online. 

Talk to your kid about the games he/she/they are playing, and ask about their experience. Try to react if you see red flags, like your child complaining about bullying or if you see them crying or just feeling anxious after a play session. 

Use parental controls whenever you see the option in a game. Remember to keep your password private. Kids can get crafty; if you set your password to be something familiar, like their name or your SO, they can crack it easily. When you put parental controls, you also limit the possibility of unexpected purchases. 

Limit their screen time. All the games they play are made to be super fun and addicting as possible, and you can’t expect your child to have self-control. When they play their favorite game, they stay immersed in front of the screen for as long as possible. Try to balance their screen time with outside play as well. Encourage them to take more breaks in their playtime sessions and stretching.

Limit their browsing; unrestricted full access to the internet is incredible when you have the right tools to process it correctly. However, kids usually don’t and can end up in dark corners, exposed to scary ideas, pictures, videos, etc. 

Never let them meet any of their “online” friends without any parents around. If you choose to meet up, do so in daylight in a public place full of people. There are voice modulators that can impersonate anyone at any age, and this precaution is a must.

In conclusion

If you follow these bits of advice, you will help your kids safely enjoy online gaming. Some of our best childhood memories are tied to online gaming and connecting with others worldwide. Doing so can be incredibly fun and rewarding, but as the saying goes, better to be safe than sorry.

Posted on 25th Jan 2023 by Dan

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