Play it Safe: Online Gaming
Online games are played on the Internet through a computer console, mobile device, or app. What makes it different from traditional games is the ability to play and communicate with other players online. Games can range from task/mission-based activities to sports games and anything in between. Online games can be a great way to communicate with people, develop teamwork skills, and of course, they are a source of entertainment for young people.
Many of you will learn about the more traditional game formats where you buy physical games for popular consoles, such as Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo.
What Types of Online Games Are There?
There are many different forms of online games. These range from free games or applications that can be downloaded on mobile phones to games that can be played on consoles with Internet access, for example, PlayStation or Xbox.
Games and web applications: Games that can be played on the Internet through specific websites, or through applications that can be downloaded to mobile phones. These types of games include games that are played through social media services, for example through Facebook, that allow players to communicate with friends.
Console games - Games played with entertainment consoles, for example, Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo. The consoles are connected to televisions, and games can be bought in stores or downloaded online.
Mobile games - Games that can be downloaded to your mobile phone. Many of them are free at first, but fees are often included in these games. For example, users can sometimes pay to get additional functionality to help them complete the game. In-game purchases can usually be disabled in users ’mobile settings.
Portable gaming: Devices like iPads or Nintendo DSI also host online games.
What Are the Risks of Online Gaming?
Inappropriate content: Some online games may not be appropriate for your child's age and may contain violent or sexual images. All online games come with an age recommendation. To prevent your child from accessing inappropriate games, please ensure that parental settings are active on your computers/consoles and check the age rating here in the games your child accesses.
Multiplayer gameplay: Many online games allow multiplayer modes that can pose some dangers for young adults. In multiplayer mode, users can play with other players from anywhere in the world. Some of these games allow users to send messages to each other through text or voice modes. In some cases, young players may experience online abuse/harassment from other players, especially when feelings are high after a competitive match.
Players may be exposed to inappropriate player language, and in some cases, young people may be left open to unwanted contacts by sharing personal information through their profiles or by talking to other players.
To avoid this, make sure your child's profile is private and encourage him not to use real pictures or full names of his game profile and not to share any personal information. It's also a good idea to allow your child to talk to you if he is uncomfortable or unsure of something he found while playing. Make sure your child knows how to prevent a player from sending spam.
Pay-to-play - many online games are free to download. However, these games may provide additional features, once the game becomes life, which users can buy. It is a common practice among games and downloadable apps to give players the opportunity to purchase access to the next level of the game or purchase features to help them complete the games. It can be very easy for players to unintentionally collect accounts in these games. To avoid this, parents should make sure they have a specific password on the phone/device for in-app purchases or turn off this option on the phone/device; this can usually be done through the app / mobile settings.
Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe
Here are some helpful tips to ensure a safe online playing experience for your child.
• Check the age rating for the games your kids play and make sure the games are age-appropriate.
• Advise your child not to share personal details online or on their personal files. For teenagers, it might be better to discuss the dangers of sharing information online.
• Encourage your child to play with integrity and treat other players with respect.
• Use family safety settings to protect your child from discovering games that may not be suitable for age/content.
• Many parents find it helpful to agree on time limits for playing with their children.
• Playing online games can leave computers/devices open at risk of contracting the virus. Protect your computer by making sure your antivirus software is up to date.
• Make sure your child knows how to report or prevent other players who engage in cyberbullying or any inappropriate behavior
Useful Links for Parents
Age Rating and Game Reviews
Pan European Game Information (advice on age ratings and suitability of games): pegi.info/en/index/
Reporting or Blocking Players
PlayStation – support.us.playstation.com/report-inappropriate-or-abusive-users