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How to Keep a Closer Eye on Your Kids’ Gaming Activity

Tracking Kids Gaming Activity Online

Contrary to what parents might have thought 30 years ago, video games do not rot the brain — in fact, there are numerous studies showing a link between critical thinking, as well as hand-eye coordination, and video games.

But even with these benefits, the last thing you want is for your child to spend all their time cooped up indoors playing Fortnite. Who knows what they might be purchasing, or worse, who they might be talking to.

Here are ways you can keep a closer eye on your kids’ gaming activity.

Consider a keylogger to monitor their conversations.

It can be hard to know what your kids are talking about and who they are talking to, but a keystroke logger will tell you every single button press your kids make. Just keep in mind that using this for gaming can be confusing, as it will make a log of every keystroke—including your kids using W, S, A, and D to move within the game. You’ll have to navigate through the logs to find when your kids have a conversation with another player in-game.

Use a program like RescueTime or other built-in tools to track how your kids spend time on the computer.

If you aren’t sure how much time your kids spend on the computer—or you suspect they play games when they’re not supposed to—you can use a program that monitors their activity and reports back to you. Some of these programs will allow you to lock certain activities if they extend beyond a certain time period.

If your kids play on console more than computer, never fear. The PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch all have optional parental controls that can be used to limit the amount of time someone spends playing video games on a day-to-day basis. Just make sure your kids don’t learn how to bypass those controls.

Use parental controls to block purchases and transactions.

With so many micro transactions available in games today, it can be hard to stop kids from spending money both deliberately and accidentally. After all, it only takes a few clicks to buy the “Battlepass” on Fortnite, at a cost of $9.99. The same parental controls you use to restrict playtime can also be used to restrict purchases.

If you enable these settings, your kids will not be able to spend any money in the game. No need to worry about becoming one of the parents on the evening news whose kid spends $800 on new skins.

Video games are a fun pastime, and they may even help boost some fine-motor skills. They also allow your kids to socialize with friends without leaving the house. But like everything else, they should be played in moderation. Use these tools to keep an eye on what your kids are up to. You can keep them safe (and protect your wallet) without intruding on them in any noticeable way. They’ll appreciate the illusion of independence while they play games with their friends, and you can rest easy knowing they’re safe on the internet.

Patrick is an Atlanta-based tech writer for Xfinity. When he’s not writing, he can be found spending his time with the latest videogame or chasing down the most recent challenges in Fortnite.

Contrary to what parents might have thought 30 years ago, video games do not rot the brain — in fact, there are numerous studies showing a link between critical thinking, as well as hand-eye coordination, and video games.

But even with these benefits, the last thing you want is for your child to spend all their time cooped up indoors playing Fortnite. Who knows what they might be purchasing, or worse, who they might be talking to.

Here are ways you can keep a closer eye on your kids’ gaming activity.

Consider a keylogger to monitor their conversations.

It can be hard to know what your kids are talking about and who they are talking to, but a keystroke logger will tell you every single button press your kids make. Just keep in mind that using this for gaming can be confusing, as it will make a log of every keystroke—including your kids using W, S, A, and D to move within the game. You’ll have to navigate through the logs to find when your kids have a conversation with another player in-game.

Use a program like RescueTime or other built-in tools to track how your kids spend time on the computer.

If you aren’t sure how much time your kids spend on the computer—or you suspect they play games when they’re not supposed to—you can use a program that monitors their activity and reports back to you. Some of these programs will allow you to lock certain activities if they extend beyond a certain time period.

If your kids play on console more than computer, never fear. The PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch all have optional parental controls that can be used to limit the amount of time someone spends playing video games on a day-to-day basis. Just make sure your kids don’t learn how to bypass those controls.

Use parental controls to block purchases and transactions.

With so many micro transactions available in games today, it can be hard to stop kids from spending money both deliberately and accidentally. After all, it only takes a few clicks to buy the “Battlepass” on Fortnite, at a cost of $9.99. The same parental controls you use to restrict playtime can also be used to restrict purchases.

If you enable these settings, your kids will not be able to spend any money in the game. No need to worry about becoming one of the parents on the evening news whose kid spends $800 on new skins.

Video games are a fun pastime, and they may even help boost some fine-motor skills. They also allow your kids to socialize with friends without leaving the house. But like everything else, they should be played in moderation. Use these tools to keep an eye on what your kids are up to. You can keep them safe (and protect your wallet) without intruding on them in any noticeable way. They’ll appreciate the illusion of independence while they play games with their friends, and you can rest easy knowing they’re safe on the internet.

Patrick is an Atlanta-based tech writer for Xfinity. When he’s not writing, he can be found spending his time with the latest videogame or chasing down the most recent challenges in Fortnite.

When You Grow Up…

Kids of the Future

… what will the world be like? Scientists and thinkers have puzzled over that question. Hundreds of years ago, writers imagined a future where people lived easy lives, doing what they wanted to, buying what they wanted without money.

Before you were born, scientists predicted that the earth would soon be covered in ice. Others predicted that the ice will all melt.

Those predictions did not come to pass. The truth is that the future is a mystery. And here’s the exciting part: You will live there one day!

When you are a grown-up, what will life be like? No one can be sure, but many very smart people have some interesting ideas.

3D PRINTED FOOD

Feel like a pizza? Print one! Yes, in the future, when you need to feed your kids, you might cook up a pizza on a 3D printer. NASA is currently experimenting with 3D food printers to use in space.

Here on earth, 3D printers are already being used, but they are very expensive and don’t prepare a lot of different foods. By the time you are a grown-up, 3D food printers will be as common as microwave ovens. And you’ll be able to add extra cheese.

YOUR HOME WILL BE YOUR DOCTOR

Paying for health care is expensive. When you grow up, you will pay taxes to pay for that care. To help keep costs low, your home will be filled with tools that keep an eye of your health. Your toothbrush will test your saliva. Your toilet will test your, ahem, deposits.

Of course, your watch will also tell you how your heart is doing. All of this testing will help find health problems before they become too serious. They will tell you when you need to see a human doctor and when you just need to take a breath and relax.

WHEN YOU DO NEED A DOCTOR

In the future, you might get treated by tiny robots of a robot suit.

Nanotechnology is, simply put, using very tiny particles to do a job. For example, some sunscreens use nanoparticles to protect your skin. In the future, doctors will be able to use these wee little particles to make machines that treat disease or fix wounds. Other types of treatment are big.

Right now, doctors are creating mechanical suits that can act like legs or arms. People who have spine injuries will be able to move the suit just by thinking. Soldiers injured in war or kids damaged in accidents will finally be able to stand, walk or even play soccer.

HEADING TO THE FARM—IN AN ELEVATOR

As an adult, you might decide to be a farmer. You don’t go to the field in a truck—you take an elevator. That’s because farms are being created in high-rise buildings.

Some crops are grown on the side of the building. This is called “vertical farming” and people are doing it now. From vegetables to meat, almost any food can be grown inside these buildings.

If you want to be a farmer, you better get used to heights.

THE HARDEST PART OF THE FUTURE?

Being Human.

Technology is great. Everyone has a phone that connects them to friends and facts and fun games. All that technology is causing problems. Kids and adults alike find it hard to visit face-to-face.

People who get along using text messages can feel awkward when they try to meet in person. In the “old days,” men and women fell in love by meeting and getting to know one another.

Now, adults go through lists of information to learn about a person they like. Also, too much technology can make thinking harder. In the future, you could find life a struggle when technology breaks down. You could feel anxious without a phone in your hand.

The best way to make sure that you enter the future strong, smart and able to enjoy the world is to live in reality. Exercise, visit people, get your parents to show you how to do things rather than look it up on your computer. When the future arrives, you’ll be ready to make it whatever you want it to be.

… what will the world be like? Scientists and thinkers have puzzled over that question. Hundreds of years ago, writers imagined a future where people lived easy lives, doing what they wanted to, buying what they wanted without money.

Before you were born, scientists predicted that the earth would soon be covered in ice. Others predicted that the ice will all melt.

Those predictions did not come to pass. The truth is that the future is a mystery. And here’s the exciting part: You will live there one day!

When you are a grown-up, what will life be like? No one can be sure, but many very smart people have some interesting ideas.

3D PRINTED FOOD

Feel like a pizza? Print one! Yes, in the future, when you need to feed your kids, you might cook up a pizza on a 3D printer. NASA is currently experimenting with 3D food printers to use in space.

Here on earth, 3D printers are already being used, but they are very expensive and don’t prepare a lot of different foods. By the time you are a grown-up, 3D food printers will be as common as microwave ovens. And you’ll be able to add extra cheese.

YOUR HOME WILL BE YOUR DOCTOR

Paying for health care is expensive. When you grow up, you will pay taxes to pay for that care. To help keep costs low, your home will be filled with tools that keep an eye of your health. Your toothbrush will test your saliva. Your toilet will test your, ahem, deposits.

Of course, your watch will also tell you how your heart is doing. All of this testing will help find health problems before they become too serious. They will tell you when you need to see a human doctor and when you just need to take a breath and relax.

WHEN YOU DO NEED A DOCTOR

In the future, you might get treated by tiny robots of a robot suit.

Nanotechnology is, simply put, using very tiny particles to do a job. For example, some sunscreens use nanoparticles to protect your skin. In the future, doctors will be able to use these wee little particles to make machines that treat disease or fix wounds. Other types of treatment are big.

Right now, doctors are creating mechanical suits that can act like legs or arms. People who have spine injuries will be able to move the suit just by thinking. Soldiers injured in war or kids damaged in accidents will finally be able to stand, walk or even play soccer.

HEADING TO THE FARM—IN AN ELEVATOR

As an adult, you might decide to be a farmer. You don’t go to the field in a truck—you take an elevator. That’s because farms are being created in high-rise buildings.

Some crops are grown on the side of the building. This is called “vertical farming” and people are doing it now. From vegetables to meat, almost any food can be grown inside these buildings.

If you want to be a farmer, you better get used to heights.

THE HARDEST PART OF THE FUTURE?

Being Human.

Technology is great. Everyone has a phone that connects them to friends and facts and fun games. All that technology is causing problems. Kids and adults alike find it hard to visit face-to-face.

People who get along using text messages can feel awkward when they try to meet in person. In the “old days,” men and women fell in love by meeting and getting to know one another.

Now, adults go through lists of information to learn about a person they like. Also, too much technology can make thinking harder. In the future, you could find life a struggle when technology breaks down. You could feel anxious without a phone in your hand.

The best way to make sure that you enter the future strong, smart and able to enjoy the world is to live in reality. Exercise, visit people, get your parents to show you how to do things rather than look it up on your computer. When the future arrives, you’ll be ready to make it whatever you want it to be.

Kids Tech: Tips for Parents in the Digital Age

Parents and Kids Internet Safety

The world has now globalized thanks to technology. Such is its significance and influences on our daily lives that even our kids are now part of the growth. They are digital-savvy citizens who were exposed to technology at a young age and now use it on a regular basis.

However, since it can sting as much as it can benefit them, it is vital that we assist our children in learning healthy ways of digital use. How can we effectively do this? Here are several essential tips for parents in the digital age.

Create a Media Use Plan for the Family:

While it is irrefutable that media is one way to enhance your everyday life, it can displace numerous essential activities if utilized improperly. This can include much-needed family time as well time spend with friends away from screens. The need to have a proper media-use family plan has never been more important.

Restrict Reasonably and Encourage Playtime:

Similar to other activities in your home, it is essential that you set reasonable limits for media use. In addition to setting limits, encourage regular playtime and make it an everyday priority. This is especially important for your younger kids as it stimulates creativity.

Participate:

Don’t let screen time be alone time. Participate and play with your kids during screen time as it promotes bonding, social interaction, as well as active learning.

You can either watch a movie or even play some video games together. Not only will it help you bond; it also provides you with the perfect opportunity to not only understand them but also share your perspectives and offer guidance. This is also the perfect time to teach them about online safety and security.

Face-To-Face Communication Is Irreplaceable:

Two-way communication is the best way for young kids to learn. Conversing back and forth has been shown to develop language skills more than even “passive listening.”

Face-to-face active listening communication is an integral part of language development. Conversations can either be direct or, if need be, through video chat in cases where the parent or guardian is not around.

Lead by Example:

Instill good and decent online manners. Children tend to mimic their parents. As their role model, you should take necessary precautions like limiting the time period you spend on your media. This will help you interact and bond more with your kids by being there as opposed to getting lost in your screen.

Set up Tech-Free Zones:

Important activities such as family/social gatherings, mealtimes or even particular places in the house such as bedrooms should be completely screen-free. You can start by switching off the TV when having face-to-face time with your kids to avoid distractions for one or restrict them from taking their gadgets to their rooms during bedtime.

Such changes will not only promote healthier eating habits, but they also add to the family time and help the kids sleep better.

Children Will Always Be Children

Undoubtedly, kids are bound to mess up when using media. Carefully handle mistakes with understanding and turn every moment of error into a learning experience.

However, some actions such as cyberbullying may need some stern measures and action. It is crucial that you take note of your kid’s behavior, and where necessary seek professional assistance such as counseling.

While technology is now a fundamental component in our everyday lives, it should always be appropriately and moderately used. It is possible to ensure it does not disrupt fundamental essential activities. Despite its numerous benefits towards the growth of our kids, it should never take the place of real-time experiences with our families. The latter is vital in promoting the healthy development and proper learning of our kids.

Prioritize face-to-face interaction and ensure it is not overshadowed by a bunch of screens and media streams.

The world has now globalized thanks to technology. Such is its significance and influences on our daily lives that even our kids are now part of the growth. They are digital-savvy citizens who were exposed to technology at a young age and now use it on a regular basis.

However, since it can sting as much as it can benefit them, it is vital that we assist our children in learning healthy ways of digital use. How can we effectively do this? Here are several essential tips for parents in the digital age.

Create a Media Use Plan for the Family:

While it is irrefutable that media is one way to enhance your everyday life, it can displace numerous essential activities if utilized improperly. This can include much-needed family time as well time spend with friends away from screens. The need to have a proper media-use family plan has never been more important.

Restrict Reasonably and Encourage Playtime:

Similar to other activities in your home, it is essential that you set reasonable limits for media use. In addition to setting limits, encourage regular playtime and make it an everyday priority. This is especially important for your younger kids as it stimulates creativity.

Participate:

Don’t let screen time be alone time. Participate and play with your kids during screen time as it promotes bonding, social interaction, as well as active learning.

You can either watch a movie or even play some video games together. Not only will it help you bond; it also provides you with the perfect opportunity to not only understand them but also share your perspectives and offer guidance. This is also the perfect time to teach them about online safety and security.

Face-To-Face Communication Is Irreplaceable:

Two-way communication is the best way for young kids to learn. Conversing back and forth has been shown to develop language skills more than even “passive listening.”

Face-to-face active listening communication is an integral part of language development. Conversations can either be direct or, if need be, through video chat in cases where the parent or guardian is not around.

Lead by Example:

Instill good and decent online manners. Children tend to mimic their parents. As their role model, you should take necessary precautions like limiting the time period you spend on your media. This will help you interact and bond more with your kids by being there as opposed to getting lost in your screen.

Set up Tech-Free Zones:

Important activities such as family/social gatherings, mealtimes or even particular places in the house such as bedrooms should be completely screen-free. You can start by switching off the TV when having face-to-face time with your kids to avoid distractions for one or restrict them from taking their gadgets to their rooms during bedtime.

Such changes will not only promote healthier eating habits, but they also add to the family time and help the kids sleep better.

Children Will Always Be Children

Undoubtedly, kids are bound to mess up when using media. Carefully handle mistakes with understanding and turn every moment of error into a learning experience.

However, some actions such as cyberbullying may need some stern measures and action. It is crucial that you take note of your kid’s behavior, and where necessary seek professional assistance such as counseling.

While technology is now a fundamental component in our everyday lives, it should always be appropriately and moderately used. It is possible to ensure it does not disrupt fundamental essential activities. Despite its numerous benefits towards the growth of our kids, it should never take the place of real-time experiences with our families. The latter is vital in promoting the healthy development and proper learning of our kids.

Prioritize face-to-face interaction and ensure it is not overshadowed by a bunch of screens and media streams.

What Did You See? Really…

Imagine you are in the back seat, playing with your phone as your dad drives you to soccer practice. You pass Liam, a kid from school. His arms are waving and his face is red as he yells at a small boy you don’t know. And your dad has driven past the scene, his attention on the road.

You shake your head, then go online and post: “What’s up with Liam? Just saw him screaming at some little kid. He’s such a loser.” “We’re here,” your dad says. “Give me your phone.”

You do and head to the locker room.

After practice, as you’re changing, you tell your teammates about Liam. “You should have seen him. And the kid was half his size.” One of the kids you tell whips out his phone and posts: “Liam. Always thought you were a jerk. Now I know.”

Only when you’re buckled in the back seat does your dad hand you your phone. Turning it on, you see that lots of your friends have commented on how much of a jerk Liam is. You feel a burst of pride. After all, you were the one who told the world about Liam’s horrible behavior.

You start responding as your dad detours to the school to get your big sister from her basketball practice.

When your sister gets in the car, she’s excited. “Did you hear about the Jameson boy? He took off from his mom and was over by the freeway throwing rocks at cars.”

Your dad shoots her a strange look. “How do you know this?”

“Well, Liam was riding by on his bike and the kid threw a rock at him. So he pulled into the ditch and told him to stop. He tried to get the kid’s home number and the boy wouldn’t tell him. Our coach had to stop drills when Liam called her to get the Mom’s number.”

You feel the slow burn of embarrassment start creeping up your neck.

“Mrs. Jameson was frantic,” your sister continues. “She’d even called the police because she couldn’t find him. The cops showed up anyway because they’d had reports about a kid throwing rocks at cars—sirens and everything. It was a wild scene.”

“Wow. Scary. A little boy that close to the freeway. And throwing rocks, no less. Good thing Liam has a head on his shoulders. That Jameson boy could have hurt someone or got hurt himself.”

And there you are, looking at all the mean postings about Liam.

You take a breath and write your next post: “Hey, everybody. Turns out that the real jerk around here is me. I’ve just learned the hard way not to make fast judgments about people. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”

Imagine you are in the back seat, playing with your phone as your dad drives you to soccer practice. You pass Liam, a kid from school. His arms are waving and his face is red as he yells at a small boy you don’t know. And your dad has driven past the scene, his attention on the road.

You shake your head, then go online and post: “What’s up with Liam? Just saw him screaming at some little kid. He’s such a loser.” “We’re here,” your dad says. “Give me your phone.”

You do and head to the locker room.

After practice, as you’re changing, you tell your teammates about Liam. “You should have seen him. And the kid was half his size.” One of the kids you tell whips out his phone and posts: “Liam. Always thought you were a jerk. Now I know.”

Only when you’re buckled in the back seat does your dad hand you your phone. Turning it on, you see that lots of your friends have commented on how much of a jerk Liam is. You feel a burst of pride. After all, you were the one who told the world about Liam’s horrible behavior.

You start responding as your dad detours to the school to get your big sister from her basketball practice.

When your sister gets in the car, she’s excited. “Did you hear about the Jameson boy? He took off from his mom and was over by the freeway throwing rocks at cars.”

Your dad shoots her a strange look. “How do you know this?”

“Well, Liam was riding by on his bike and the kid threw a rock at him. So he pulled into the ditch and told him to stop. He tried to get the kid’s home number and the boy wouldn’t tell him. Our coach had to stop drills when Liam called her to get the Mom’s number.”

You feel the slow burn of embarrassment start creeping up your neck.

“Mrs. Jameson was frantic,” your sister continues. “She’d even called the police because she couldn’t find him. The cops showed up anyway because they’d had reports about a kid throwing rocks at cars—sirens and everything. It was a wild scene.”

“Wow. Scary. A little boy that close to the freeway. And throwing rocks, no less. Good thing Liam has a head on his shoulders. That Jameson boy could have hurt someone or got hurt himself.”

And there you are, looking at all the mean postings about Liam.

You take a breath and write your next post: “Hey, everybody. Turns out that the real jerk around here is me. I’ve just learned the hard way not to make fast judgments about people. Things aren’t always what they seem to be.”