Keeping Kids Safe When Gaming Online

We’ve looked at the safety concerns of online gaming, but what can we as parents and guardians do to help keep our young gamers safe? Thankfully, it’s nothing too drastic, just a little common sense and a few tips to help out.

Here are ten tips to help your young gamer get the best from their game of choice, whilst still remaining safe; also how to avoid any conflicts that may arise from the gaming community.

Tip 1 – Parents, take an interest in the online games that your child plays. See what type of game it is and especially see what the online community is like. View the in-game chat, and read the game’s forum if it has one to gauge the type of gamers who play it.

Tip 2 – Make sure that game your child is playing is age appropriate. Whilst it’s fun and exciting being nine and playing an 18-rated game, there’s likely to be content within that may upset or offend. There’s a reason certain types of game have an age restriction.

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Tip 3 – However tempting it is to buy an on-game item or DLC, it’s not always the best idea. Items like this can be a lure for you to buy another and another, until the cost mounts up and you’ve racked up a game bill in the hundreds. Check to see if there is a parental purchase lock in the game if it is something has required payment information entered previously.

Tip 4 – Not everyone in the game is going to be the same age as your child. There are some people who are much older and who like to pretend they’re a young person. Explain this so your child isn’t so easily fooled into becoming a friend with just anyone who’s playing with them. They can enjoy the game, and playing with others, but discourage any out of game communications.

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Tip 5 – Make sure your child understands to never give out any personal details into an in-game chat window, via the headset or in a game’s forum. These places are ideal hunting grounds for those who want to use that information to their advantage. Make sure their in-game username isn’t linked to them in real life too.

Tip 6 – It is easy for kids to get angry or be frustrated by someone who’s being nasty in the game. They could be baiting them, griefing them into making a mistake or simply just a cyberbully who’s looking for someone new to inflict misery on. Newb or noob is a common slur thrown around in online games, but explain to your child that it just means new player or newbie, and to ignore it.

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Tip 7 – Cheats are everywhere. Even in the most secure game, there will be a time when someone releases a cheat code that can grant them immortality, infinite items or something else that enables them to win all the time. If you can, record their activity and report them to the game server admins.

Tip 8 – Don’t let your child attempt to download or sign up for a site that claims to give an in-game advantage or cheat. Some downloads and sites contain malware payloads or are trying to scam you in some way. Whilst it’s tempting for your child to have the advantage, it’s nearly always some form of phishing scam.

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Tip 9 – If your child finds themselves on a server with cheats, the subject of griefing or other forms of bullying, then encourage them to leave the server and see if there’s another one available without these people present. It might also just be a bad time of day, so try again later on.

David Hayward

David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. He also has a huge collection of cables.

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