As online gaming continues to rise in popularity, more and more kids are joining in on the fun. But like anything on the internet, online gaming comes with serious security risks, so teaching your kids how to game responsibly is more important than ever.
Here are some measures you and your child can take to make sure their gaming experience is safe and fun!
The first and most important step parents can take is establishing a review system with their kids before they download games. There are tons of resources online (Common Sense Media is a great one) that break down specific games and let parents know if they are safe and appropriate for kids. A bit of research can go a long way when it comes to finding good games for your kids.
Make sure all security measures are up-to-date on all the devices your child uses to play. Whether your kids play on a phone, tablet or gaming console, you should check in periodically to make sure the software is updated. Parents should also make sure that their kids’ passwords are secure and strong, and make sure their username doesn’t have any personal information, like their real name or birthday.
Most devices and consoles have parental control options. Parents can set time limits, filter out mature language, turn voice chat off and even restrict the players that your child can interact with, so they just play with people they know. Obviously, these restrictions depend on the age of your child, but all parents should become familiar with the control options before their kids start playing.
Gaming is a great entry point for learning about proper internet behavior. Even if you take the above measures, there’s a solid chance kids will still come across inappropriate behavior and cyberbullying. Most games and consoles have options to report users who display inappropriate behavior, so teach your kids how to ignore or block players who make them uncomfortable.
There’s no reason to stay on the sidelines! Get involved in your kid’s gaming experience. Ask them questions, watch them play and even make a character of your own and join in! Most of these games are also fun for adults, and gaming together is a great bonding activity. Plus, the closer you are to the situation, the more sure you can be that your child is being safe online.