For many parents the world of gaming can be daunting, uncharted territory. It’s constantly changing and evolving. As a parent, you want your child to have fun doing the things they love while being safe. Every family has their own unique set of values and culture. Review this list and decide which ones are right for you. So whether you’re hosting a GameTruck party or simply having some much needed quiet time while the kids game, here are eight different ways to encourage video game safety and fun.
Make it a Family Activity
One way you can play with and protect your child online is by gaming with them. Make it a family event! Have them teach you how to play!
Look Into Parental Controls
From scammers to harmful content, take advantage of these controls to help protect your kids from a wide range of online threats. Do not give it out. Make it unique and not something easily guessed by those who know you.
Research Games before your Child Plays Them
Every family has different values. While certain games may be acceptable in your child’s friend’s house, they may contain offensive elements or themes. Always research to ensure that a game aligns with your standards to maximize video game safety for your child.
Know who they are watching.
If your child watches any streamers, know who they are as they may promote content on or off the platform that is not suitable for children.
Know what “multiplayer” means.
This term means that players interact with one another. This feature may or may not be monitored for violations of community guidelines. Encourage your child to report abusive / inappropriate behavior in the reporting area of the game.
Monitor “trash talk”.
Be vigilant for cyberbullying. Encourage your child to speak out if they or another player are not being treated right especially if there is a report feature in the game. Encourage them to block any player that makes them feel uncomfortable. Let them know they can always talk to you about things that happen online.
Know how to read an ESRB rating.
You want to protect your kid as they game, but with so many out there, it can be hard to know if one is right for your family. One easy way to gather information about a game is to look at their ESRB rating. It’ll tell you 3 important things…
- The big top box states the reason it got this rating. These reasons can include things like gore, gambling, substances, and much more. This section highlights anything that might be a concern for parents.
- The small bottom box lists “interactive Elements”. These are things that may be helpful for the parent to know before making a decision; however, these interactive elements do not play a role in determining a game’s ESRB rating. This section can include sharing location, in-game purchases, player interactions, and more.
- The Letter signals the suggested age range for players.
Understand the different types of video games.
There are several different types. Educate yourself about the different platforms your child likes to game on. Here are just a few types of gaming platforms…
- Free-to-Play – ad-supported games that are free but include paid upgrades and add-ons (such as extra lives and tools), frequently found on mobile devices
- Subscription Games – games that are streamed and accessed through an account.
- Social Networking Games – connected with and played within social sites (often through Facebook), pulls user information from profiles and offers paid upgrades and add-ons
- Digital Downloads – game downloaded directly to a console or computer (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii have their own online marketplaces)
Gaming with family and friends can be a great way to build meaningful connections and memories, but video game safety should always be a priority. Implement this list to enhance your family’s safety while having a great time online!