A Parent’s Guide to Online Gaming

A Parent’s Guide to Online Gaming
October 2, 2018 No Comments Cyber Security Technician

The month of October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Every week, we plan on releasing an article to raise awareness for cyber security and the safety of our children online. This week, the topic is "Child Safety and Gaming Online". It can be a sensitive subject and easy to overlook.

One of my son's favorite things to do at the end of the day is sit down and turn on the Playstation 4 with his dad. I am not a kid anymore but playing video games with him is a great way to bond while getting a taste of nostalgia. With bullying, bad language, and now even predators playing games, the online world can be a harsh place for an adolescent. With a few tips, you can make sure your child can play online safely.

The Dangers

Locker Room Talk

When I was in college, I played "Call of Duty" more than I should have. One of the most exciting things about playing the game was the chat rooms. It brought teamwork and competitiveness into play but it also brought several foul mouthed bullies into the chat. It would be tragic if my children were exposed to that. Bullying should not be tolerated to any extent. These are standards that are often ignored in online chat systems. Insults are handed out like participation trophies, and self-esteem is chopped down like trees. Language is dirtier than a septic tank and there is no one available to regulate behavior. This can be damaging to a child's moral and confidence.

Your Worst Nightmare

The scariest factor of online chat systems are online predators. Predators are using chat systems through games such as Fortnite to meet young players. There have been several reports of predators having illicit conversations with children, and it is terrifying that these people are very difficult to track. It is a danger that is gut wrenching to talk about but knowing the facts can help you stop it from happening in your house.

Avoiding the Dangers

So how do I allow my child play video games when I am not there to supervise his content?

Being Aware

The first and most important thing is knowing what your children playing. Get involved with your children's free time. Sit and play with them. Become familiar with what they are doing on their gaming console when you are not around. I keep our game consoles in a central location in our house. I may not see what my son is doing, but I can hear what he is doing. With the time I have invested in my son's free time playing games, I know I can trust him and not have to look over his shoulder.

Parental Controls

All video game consoles have parental controls built in. They are easy to find, and I encourage you to use them. Parental Controls are usually found in the settings section of your game console's home screen. Most games even have their own parental control features you can set. They cover anything from voice and text chat, to spending limits, to game content. Here is a list of items I check when my child is on our PS4.

  • Turn off voice chat. Voice chat is the most dangerous aspect of online gaming.
  • Use a shared account. We have one Playstation account and I maintain full control over it.
  • Make use of passwords and pins. Keep them secret, keep them safe.
  • Turn off friend requests. Nobody can request to be my friend.
  • I go so far as to make my account appear offline.

I wish I could play video games with my son from dusk till dawn. That would be the safest way of avoiding dangers online. The truth is, I can't. We all have responsibilities. Being a parent keeps you busy. You cannot be at your child's side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I could also not allow him to play, but that is not a realistic option in my opinion. I encourage playing video games in moderation. Video games can teach kids important skills such as strategy, organization, time-management, commitment, and hand-to-eye coordination.

Become familiar with the options you have at your disposal. If you have any questions, feel free to stop in or give us a call. We have experts who are happy to share their knowledge with other parents. Feel free to leave a comment below with your tips. We love conversation.

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