Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Protect Your Kids: Tips for Safe Gaming on the Internet

 

Today’s digital landscape can be a scary place for parents. From the explosive growth of social media to the increasing popularity of online gaming (e.g., Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite), to the explosion of chat apps like Kik and WhatsApp, kids are spending more time than ever online and at risk of encountering inappropriate content or users. The Internet also poses other risks – cyberbullying, exposure to indecent images or language, and potential predators – that keep many parents up at night worrying whether their kids might fall prey to one of these dangers. But you can take action by arming yourself with the proper knowledge and tools to support your kids in making safe decisions online.

Talk to your kids about online safety.

Kids may not understand the risks of being online, so you should start early and have age-appropriate discussions with them about staying safe online. Use examples from the news or your own experiences to help your kids see that being online isn’t a risk-free environment. The National Cyber Security Alliance recommends that parents start talking to their kids about online safety as soon as they’re old enough to go online and that you create a shared household rule about not sharing any personal information online, such as a full name, address, school, friends, or family members, unless it’s necessary.

Set up parental controls on gaming devices.

When kids play video games, they typically play online against others. Most gaming systems allow you to set parental controls, which can help parents control what their kids see online. You can set up privacy settings on the PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles to prevent your kids from seeing mature-rated content, such as language or violence. PlayStation and Xbox also offer content restrictions that block users with bad language or who send invites to your child. You can also set up parental controls on virtual-reality systems like Sony’s PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift.

Install an ad blocker.

Advertising fuels online media, but some online ads are malicious traps designed to infect your computer with malware, steal your personal data, or trick your kids into clicking on inappropriate content. Install an ad blocker to prevent your computer from encountering malicious ads. Apple devices come with preinstalled ad blockers, but Android users need to download an ad blocker app. To find one, check out reviews and recommendations from reputable sources like PCMag, CNET, and Wired.

Use dedicated apps for communication and gaming.

Consider using apps like Microsoft’s Minecraft or Roblox for gaming and communication. Roblox offers a parent-controlled setting that allows parents to choose who their kids can play with online and what language is allowed. Microsoft’s Minecraft also has parental controls and safety settings, including an option to report inappropriate users. WhatsApp and Kik are popular messaging apps that can help you stay in touch with family and friends, but they have a high risk of encountering inappropriate content and users. Consider using a different app, like Apple’s iMessage, that has strict rules in place and can be controlled by parents through parental controls.

Pay Attention to Online Multiplayer Games

If your child is playing multiplayer games it is natural to be worried about who they will be playing with. Massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) include games such as Minecraft, World of Warcraft, Just Dance, and Fortnite to name a few. The first instance following the above tips such as talking to your child about the dangers, turning chat functions off, and installing ad blockers can be highly beneficial and can help your child to learn more about the potential dangers of playing multiplayer games. Taking an interest in your child's gaming activity can help you to be more aware of any communication being sent via the game. Minecraft for example allows you to buy “Minecraft Realms” so your child can play privately with their friends. Or you can look at an
smp minecraft server that can limit the contact your child has with others as they will only be able to interact with those choosing to access that specific server. You can also find Minecraft servers with specific goals in mind so you can pick one that best fits your child's gameplay ethos.

Conclusion

Digital technology has changed how we communicate, play, and stay informed, but it also comes with risks that can be difficult to manage. The best way to protect your kids is to stay informed about the latest trends and threats and take the necessary steps to help them stay safe online. Protecting your family also means knowing how to spot and report dangerous or inappropriate content.

16 comments:

  1. This is great advice, thanks for sharing! The internet can definitely be a scary place and it is so important to protect and teach our kids about it.

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  2. Thank you for sharing these tips on safety during on-line gaming, my sons and grandchildren are really big on gaming and I will definitely be passing this information along to them

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  3. These are great tips and so important to keep safe and be aware

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  4. Parental controls, absolutely! And the others as well. Always pay attention to what your kids are doing online!

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  5. Thanks for sharing. Kids online safety is so important.

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  6. These are great ideas and suggestions. The internet is scary for kids.

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  7. VERY important tips; there are far too many terrible people out there these days using these platforms.

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  8. These are great tips for parents.

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  9. great advise, thanks for the tips

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  10. These are such great tips!

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  11. This is great advice. I'm always worried when my nephew borrows my phone to play games.

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  12. Its definitely important to teach kids online safety. Its a top priority at our house.

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  13. My daughter is always gaming so we definitely got to take precautions. Thanks for the tips. - Richelle Leffler

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