Tips for Keeping Kids Safe While Playing Video Games
There’s proof that video games and online time can actually be beneficial to kids, but there are some nefarious pitfalls as well, such as hackers and online bullying. Is your child determined to get a new high score on their favorite video game? If you have a junior gamer, implement video game safety strategies to protect them.
According to the Entertainment Software Association, three-quarters of kids play video games every week. Here are some tips to help make those video games safer.
Choose Age-Appropriate Games
Screen video games before letting your child play to ensure they’re age-appropriate. Kids want to play what their friends play, but other parents might have different standards. The recommended age on the package is a good start, but it’s also helpful to preview games or read reviews to understand the details.
Tighten Privacy Settings
Hide personal information when playing internet-connected games. Check usernames to ensure your child doesn’t accidentally provide personal information. You can often change privacy settings to limit contact with strangers. The PlayStation Network lets you control who can send friend requests, see your real name, and contact you, as do other platforms such as Steam.
Have Safety Discussions
Talk to your child about the dangers of video gaming, including the potential for cyberbullying and online predators. Review what things they shouldn’t say or information they should keep confidential.
You can also help kids navigate the web safely by using Safe Search Kids, especially if they want to try to find their own solutions for challenging parts of the games they are playing. Using Safe Search Kids means that you don’t have to worry about your kids stumbling upon content that isn’t appropriate for them.
Enact Parental Controls
Review gaming platforms and games to find parental controls that restrict activities. Some video games allow in-game purchases, but you can usually require authorization. You might be able to restrict types of games, screen time, chat features, and other functionalities on gaming platforms.
If you have a hard time remembering how to implement parental features on different devices, save them as PDFs and store them safely in a password-protected file so the kids can’t find them. You can even select a PDF editor if you want to add additional notes or information, like your password or recovery key. Just open the file through the editor and make the changes before saving again.
Limit Webcam and Chat Access
Limiting or turning off the webcam and chat features on your computer or gaming platform helps keep kids safe, especially when playing online with strangers. This can prevent cyberbullying or contact with online predators who pretend to be kids.
Game With Your Child
Playing with your child lets you spot potential threats, so you can intervene before they become an issue. You can also find teachable moments while playing. For example, if another player asks for your child’s personal information, you can explain to them why it’s dangerous.
Limit Screen Time
Kids aged 8 to 12 typically spend four to six hours on screens and teens get up to nine hours daily, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Deciding what screen time limit feels right for your family is a good framework for your kids. Or set requirements before playing, such as finishing homework or getting in the hour or more of physical activity recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Use Tech Safely
New headphones give your child an immersive experience, but they can be dangerous. Sounds over 70 decibels can cause hearing damage, especially with prolonged exposure, according to Houston Methodist. Normal talking is 60 dB and a washing machine is 70 dB. Check your child’s headphones to ensure they aren’t too loud, and invest in a pair that’s comfortable to wear.
Keep Everything Updated
Keeping video games, computers, and gaming systems updated protects from cyberattacks. The latest updates often include patches that protect against new cyberthreats, so keeping everything updated reduces your vulnerability.
Make Gaming Safe
Playing video games can be entertaining and even educational in some instances if you implement video game safety guidelines with your kids. Following these tips – and common sense – will enable you and your family to enjoy safe screen time.