Online games can be great fun for children, but there are several risks involved, which you can reduce with the correct approach.
A survey* commissioned by Get Safe Online revealed the following statistics:
- 51% worry about their kids’ safety
- 37% feel they have no control over their kids’ online gaming
- 24% are unaware of the security risks to their kids from online gaming
- 25% know their kids have disclosed personal information while online gaming
- 34% say their kids have spoken to someone they don’t know while online gaming
- 16% say their child has been bullied or verbally abused
The risks arise largely from the vast number of people both in the UK and abroad who are also playing, the minimal restrictions involved and the fact that they are not face-to-face. Because of this, your child cannot be sure who they are playing against and chatting to … or what their motives are. Sadly, being taken advantage of by strangers with sexual, abusive, fraudulent or other criminal motives is becoming more commonplace. The risks are increased as more and more games are being played on mobile devices rather than the 'family computer', giving you less opportunity to check up on what your children are doing online.
Other risks include:
- Your child playing games with an inappropriate age rating.
- Your child running up bills on your credit card – if they have access to it.
- Spending hours at a time on online games to the exclusion of exercise, socialising and schoolwork.
Keep your child's online gaming safe
- Have open and honest conversations with your children about their online gaming and the risks involved.
- Educate your children about the dangers of revealing private information such as their 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 dishonourable.
- Tell your children not to respond to bullying or other abuse, and to report it to you straight away.
- Join your children in online gaming from time to time and randomly. 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 children spend online gaming.
- Check age ratings of games to ensure your children aren’t accessing inappropriate content. It’s 18 for a reason!
- Never give your child your payment card details as extras can be very costly.
For parent guides to video games and PEGI (Pan European Game Information) ratings, visit https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL02RKkMS5T4ijPfE7bW1KRWXT3jJW6TTw
For answers to typical questions parents and players have about video game age ratings and advice on how to play games responsibly, visit http://askaboutgames.com
*OnePoll survey conducted for Get Safe Online over seven days in June 2015, interviewing 2,000 parents of 5–18 year-olds
A parent's guide to keeping children safe when playing games online: http://www.everybodyplays.co.uk/parents-guide-to-games
These pages have been compiled with the kind assistance of Norton and Neighbourhood Watch