Keep Video Games Safe and Fun for Minors
With These Security Tips
With the increased popularity and availability of video games (the UK is the top video game market in the EU according to Statista), kids have access to new opportunities for interaction and entertainment. However, with new territories come new risks. Most parents are aware of the need to protect children from online predators and inappropriate content, but parents also need to guard against cyber threats, theft, and bullying.
Adults who came of age before the internet era may be less familiar with its technologies and especially anxious about protecting minors in their care. But with a little extra knowledge and a lot of vigilance, even adults who aren’t so tech-savvy can be sure their kids are having a safe and rewarding gaming experience. Consider the following from UK Nanny so you can stay tuned in to your child’s gaming experience.
Be aware of which games your kids are playing.
Not all video games connect to the internet. Some may be played offline, whereas others, especially those involving multiple players, are only played online. Whether the games are connected to the internet or not, it’s important for parents to be aware of what their kids are playing. Adults should always be involved in decision-making regarding which games to purchase for minors. The video game rating system, when understood clearly and used judiciously, can be a valuable resource for parents to oversee their kids’ gaming activity. Be aware, however, that the same game might be rated differently on different platforms, so take the time to research the game in question and the reason for its ratings. Hacked.com points out that installing parental controls is also an effective way to restrict access to questionable content, as well as limit kids’ time online.
Talk to your kids about internet safety.
Most parents warn their kids about “stranger danger.” But when playing interactive online games, it’s impossible for children and young adults to avoid contacting people they don’t know, so setting ground rules is important. While some games have rules about sharing personal information and restrictions on private messaging, not all do, so kids need to learn how to set boundaries and recognize warning signs of predatory behavior. The UK Safer Internet Centre provides additional valuable information about protecting minors from predators, as well as tips for adults to be alert for signs of abuse.
Cyberbullying has become one of the top threats to internet safety for minors.
Cyberbullying can take a terrible toll on a young person’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being. And, unlike traditional bullying, cyberbullying is relentless. Parents need to keep lines of communication open with their children and make sure they know to come to them if any interaction feels inappropriate or threatening. Encourage kids to walk away from their devices, if they are being targeted by bullies, and teach them how to block other users on different platforms.
Guard against cyber threats.
While most adults are aware of the dangers posed by predators and bullies, they might be less alert to cybersecurity threats. Data breaches and hacking incidents could lead to information and identity theft. Parents should make sure their children know not to share any personal or sensitive information online, and never download anything without permission. Acquiring a virtual private network, or VPN, is one way to protect devices against these cyber threats. Always use strong passwords, and consider not sharing passwords with younger children.
Improved internet security also means a more satisfying experience.
More sophisticated internet technology not only helps prevent cyber-attacks, but it can also make online gaming more enjoyable for your children since secure devices tend to function better. If you are concerned about an already slow internet being overloaded by the demands of multiplayer games such as Fortnite or Roblox, investigate ways to improve connectivity. Shop around and read reviews on different providers. You’ll also want to use a quality, durable case for your tablet or iPad to protect the device from drops, bumps and the occasional beverage spill; it’s a wise investment that prolongs the life of the device, plus many cases double as stands, which improve ergonomics for your kids’ online experience.
Video gaming can provide children and young adults with opportunities to make personal connections and learn new skills while relaxing and unwinding. And with good parental oversight, gaming can also provide an excellent segue into navigating the complex challenges and opportunities in the world of internet technology.
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