Family Safety > Videogame Safety

Family Safety Videogame Safety Family Safety

Videogames are one of the fastest growing sectors in entertainment. Once regarded as just a toy, videogames allow us to experience epic stories, solve puzzles, and maybe even learn while having fun. The bright colors, complex mechanics, and fun noises can be especially attractive to children. Videogaming even has professional leagues (called “e-sports”) and teams that play games at a competitive level. Players from these leagues can reach superstar status and often broadcast their matches over the internet.

Videogames can be a casual, solo-play experiences or competitive sessions played with people from around the world. While videogames can be a fun, immersive, relaxing experience, they also carry risks and you should exercise caution while playing them.

Look for age-appropriate ratings.
Not all games are made with children in mind. Some videogames can contain violence and adult content that is not suitable for people under a certain age. When looking for a videogame for your child, pay attention to the maturity rating, usually displayed on the box (for physical copies) or on the download page for a game. The ratings may specify a certain age or have a rating system that marks games as ‘Mature’ (M) or ‘Adult Only’ (AO) for games that contain graphic content.

Research games before your child plays them.
Even if you aren’t much of a videogame player yourself, look into the games your children are asking to play. If possible, download or install the game and play it yourself to see the sorts of themes and content the game is offering. If you can’t play the game, research it on the internet. Look for news articles that talk about content, flaws, and themes in the game. You can also watch playthrough videos that show what gameplay is like. Find out if the game is multiplayer, internet-connected, or allows for purchases in-game. It is better to know these things before they start playing rather than later if there is a problem.

Look into parental controls.
Most videogame platforms (Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, etc.) have parental controls that can help parents set limits and block harmful content. This software can also keep children from accidentally or intentionally making purchases. Monitoring software on computers can help parents block harmful PC games and sites.

‘Multiplayer’ means players can talk and interact with each other.
Some games allow for multiple players to play together. Keep in mind that this means that players can interact with and communicate with each other. Even simple mobile games that allow for players to play against each other may also allow them to chat. Be aware that private messages can be sent to and received from other players. Some games and platforms may allow players to add other players to a friends list; monitor who is on your child’s friends list and the types of messages these friends might send.

Be careful with trash talk.
Competitive talk while playing any sport or game is nothing new, but this talk can become abusive or threatening. Talk with your children about what acceptable talk sounds like, what types of banter can be ignored, and what should be reported. Research how to mute players when their trash talking becomes too much. Banter is often a result of heightened emotions during gaming, but it can cross the line.

Pay attention to who they’re watching.
Kids may also watch competitive e-sports teams and players in addition to playing videogames. Take note of who they’re watching and watch along with them to make sure these e-players are a good influence.

Take a break.
Videogames can be a healthy activity in moderation. Take breaks during gaming and only play for a few hours each week. Remember to complete or work on other responsibilities before playing videogames. You can have friends online, but it’s also good to nurture relationships outside of your online activities as well