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A third of parents feel out of control of kids’ online gaming

  • Nine in ten (91%) parents say their kids game online
  • Half of parents (51%) worry about their child’s safety
  • Nearly two in ten (16%) say their kids have been bullied or abused online
  • Get Safe Online helping parents to get ‘Switched On’
     

 Get Safe Online, the public private joint internet safety initiative, today revealed more than a third (37%) of parents feel like they have no control over their children playing online games. In addition, more than half (51%) worry about their safety when it comes to gaming online.

This summer holiday, a significant number of children will be picking up their tablets and consoles to embark on a six week marathon of online gaming. According to a survey of 2,000 parents with children aged 5 – 18, nine in ten (91%) parents say their kids play games online. While the majority of parents say they limit the amount of time their children spend online gaming, a third (34%) admit that their child plays at least once a day.

The most popular device to game on is tablets, with three in five (62%) parents stating their kids use these devices to play. This was followed closely by mobile with 47% of children using their phones to play games. This means a child’s online activity is often out of their view.

The online gaming sector is continuing to grow at a rapid pace*, yet despite this surge in popularity, the community remains unfamiliar to many parents. Nearly a quarter (24%) are unaware of the online security risks for their child when it comes to online gaming, whether they are playing with their friends or within a virtual world.

This ignorance can be dangerous, particularly when a quarter of parents (25%) know their children who game have disclosed personal information while playing online against other players; a third (34%) have spoken to someone they don’t know; and more than a quarter (28%) have developed friendships within the online gaming community.

Additionally, 16% of parents are aware online gaming has been used as a platform for their child to be bullied or verbally abused. This could be even higher in reality as youngsters do not necessarily always share their online experiences with their parents.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online comments:

“In most cases, online gaming is fun, social and harm-free. But we need to be realistic that kids are naturally going to want to play games with their friends, but parents are right to be showing some concern about a world they are perhaps not familiar with themselves. The risks range from downloading a computer virus, to bullying and even being targeted by an older predator with more sinister motives.

“There are minimal restrictions when it comes to online gaming, meaning anyone with access to a gaming account from anywhere in the world can potentially make contact with other players using that game. Parents need to be switched on and have an open and honest conversation with their children, making sure they are mature enough to game online in the first place, and are aware of the threats and right gaming practices from the off. Young people should be on their guard against random friend requests and make sure they don’t share any private information which could put them at risk.”

David Emm, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab explains:  


Although parents will frequently warn their children from an early age about ‘stranger danger’, this is generally directed at interactions in the physical world, with their key concern being that they don’t talk to strangers they encounter on the streets. But we now live in a connected world where strangers are commonly encountered online, so this kind of sound advice needs to be delivered in a digital context too.

“While it can be hard to enforce such advice and encourage safe online behaviour, fortunately, there are tools that can help. Parental control software can help establish and enforce the framework for what´s acceptable online and which websites can be accessed. It can even be set to control how much time children can spend playing online games. One of the great things about parental control software is that it can normally be configured and customised, allowing parents to create different profiles to suit individual children at varying levels of maturity.”

Top tips for safe online gaming

  • Have an open and honest conversation with your kids about their online gaming and the risks involved
  • Tell your kids never to reveal private information like their real name, email address, home address, family members or financial details
  • Explain that not everybody is who they seem or claim to be, and their motives may be suspicious
  • Tell them not to respond to bullying or other abuse, and to tell you straight away if they are experiencing this
  • Join in with your kids gaming from time to time. This will give you an idea of the games they’re playing and who they connect with
  • Set and monitor limits for the amount of daily or weekly time your kids spend online gaming
  • Check age ratings of games to ensure your kids aren’t accessing inappropriate content
  • Never give your child your payment card details as extras can be very costly

If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. For further advice on how to stay safe online go to www.GetSafeOnline.org