Kids love playing games - it’s a great way for them to relax and have fun. Games consoles, apps and websites offer lots of options for playing online and socialising with friends while gaming too, and with so many available, it can be hard for you to know exactly how to keep your child safe.
This guide will help you keep up-to-date with the most popular online games, and help you decide if it’s appropriate for them. At the end of the day, we want everyone to play safely.
Inappropriate/upsetting content - Games usually have an age rating - and they have it for a reason. If children play something that isn’t appropriate for their age it might mean they see violent or explicit material. Some games let users create their own material too, so try to be aware of the games they’re playing and what in-game options there are.
Abuse from other players - While playing with their friends online, there’s the chance they’ll end up playing with people they don’t know. Some players can be aggressive or abusive, or even try to hack another player’s account and steal their stuff. This can be just as upsetting as getting their bike stolen from the park.
Playing with adults they don’t know - Players come in all shapes and sizes, and ages vary too. Some unsavoury adults could try to exploit this by building an emotional connection with the child with the intention of grooming.
It’s addictive - Lots of kids find it hard to stop playing their game, and it can get in the way of other activities. Try and make some clear rules with your child, so you both agree on how much time they’re allowed to spend playing their games. There are no official UK goverment guidelines yet about screentime (MPs are working on it) but a quick Google search turns up some surprisingly low numbers.
Check the game - Most games have an age rating, but bear in mind that this doesn’t cover everything. Try asking your child to generally 'teach' you about their game. Kids like to be the knowledgeable ones, and might, without even knowing it, reveal some safety red flags to you.
Know how to block and report - You should try to help your children understand that not everyone online is who they say they are. Some games let you block and report other players, so make sure you and your child know how to do this if someone is making them feel uncomfortable.
Being ‘Share aware’ - Regularly remind your child that they shouldn’t be sharing personal information online. This can include photos, videos, or even just details about themselves, even if they know the person. Also, make sure they keep any ‘chat’ on the game, and not take it to a private chat like social media or WhatsApp.
Parental controls - Knowing about, and using, the parental controls on games consoles, phones and tablets can help prevent children downloading things that aren’t age appropriate. We have dedicated guides to help you, depending what your child is using.
Talk to them - Have regular conversations with your child about staying safe online. Sit down with them and agree what type of games they should be playing, and help them to understand why other people might not be so nice online. Remind them to talk to a trusted adult if there’s anything that’s worrying them.
Hopefully that's given you some confidence about letting your kids play online. If you need any more help, contact Team Knowhow Experts.