Video games are a lot different today than they were even 10 years ago. Thanks to in-game voice or text chats, a child isn’t simply sitting in the basement and playing a game with a friend from down the street. A child is on their laptop or Xbox, possibly chatting with a 36-year-old adult 3,000 miles away.
This is the most troubling aspect of online gaming today: children are having unsupervised conversations, often very private conversations, with adults they do not know. And there are 500,000 predators online – looking for children – every day.
Monitoring a child’s digital life can be daunting. The games, apps, platforms, and consoles are constantly changing – it’s not easy to keep up. Here are some quick tips from our FREE ebook – Online Gaming: Tips for Protecting Children – to help you better understand the dangers that come with gaming online.
- Talk to your child and remind them that not everyone is who they say they are, or who their online picture represents. No one should be fooled by a profile picture.
- Talk to your child about what sort of questions they could be asked in a chat that are red-flags. Remind children that they should discuss with you before ever accepting anything for free from someone online. Roleplay these situations to prepare children and teens.
- Teach children how to block other players in the platform and how to report harassment or inappropriate behavior. Talk with them about bullying behaviors online.
- Check the privacy settings on the device (phone, tablet, console) or in the game. Adults should ensure filters are in place to weed out inappropriate language in chats or deactivate voice chats entirely.
- Before allowing your child to download, purchase, or play a game, check the age rating. Some games geared toward older children have stripped-down versions for younger children.
- Games like Minecraft have specific servers for younger children – think of it as a supervised “backyard” meant for young children to play the game without fear of being exposed to inappropriate content.
Learn more about how you can protect children playing online games with our free eBook – Online Gaming: Tips for Protecting Children. Download your free copy now at www.BeauBidenFoundation.org/OnlineGaming.