Play It Safe: Tips Every Gamer’s Parent Should Know
Online play options have become standard for many PC games and parents naturally want to find safe online games for their kids. While your kids play with other players of their favorite games, you need to be watchful for any potential problems. By taking proactive steps and staying actively involved in your children’s online activities, parents like you can ensure safe online gaming for your kids.
As a parent, you need to stay current on game ratings and your kids’ use of and involvement in these games. Game ratings can help parents determine what is and is not acceptable content for their kids’ age groups and maturity levels. Here is a breakdown of some of the common game ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB):
- E – everyone
- E 10+ – anyone over 10 years old
- Teen – some content is not kid-friendly
- M – mature players, usually 17+
- A – adults only due to graphic content
- RP – rating pending/undetermined
To learn more about what constitutes each ESRB rating, please visit here.
Make sure you keep communication lines open with your kids. They need to know that they can come to you with questions, concerns, or problems about the online games they play. Parents who are involved, approachable, and take an interest in what their children are doing often have kids who stay safe and smart when playing online. Here are a few tips to get your children talking:
- Ask them about the game they’re playing
- See if they will show you what the game is like
- Ask them about their favorite characters in the game
- Talk to them about the people they play with
- Find out what they like and dislike about the game
- Offer to play the game with your children
Being involved will go a long way in helping to protect your kids in the online gaming world. Sit beside them, take an interest in what they are doing, and engage with them as they play the game. This is a great way to take an active role in promoting online safety, even if online games are not really your thing.
Tips to Promote Online Safety for Kids
Make sure your children do the following to stay safe online:
- Use strong passwords for online game accounts.
- Never share passwords or accounts with other players online
- Know how to report unacceptable behavior.
- Never share names, age, addresses, phone numbers, school names, or other personal info online.
- Avoid using real names for screen names
- Do not use real photos of themselves as their user images – adopt avatars or generic image instead.
- Only discuss game-related things during in-game chats or communications.
Make sure that as a parent you are engaging with your kids, encouraging them to take part in activities in real life as well as online, getting them to do things with you as a family, and highlighting the importance of spending time away from games and the Internet. You do not have to stand over their shoulders all the time, but being involved, interested, and influential in what they do with their time can help keep them safe when playing online games. Using these and many other safety tips for online game play can go a long way in helping kids make smart decisions as they play games and interact with other players online.