If your children like playing video games, it’s almost inevitable that they will talk about buying games on Steam at some point. But what is Steam? And is it safe for kids? Let’s look at everything you need to know about Steam.
What is Steam?
Steam is a massive online video game store - one of the largest in the market. Many gamers use Steam because they have frequent sales and sometimes offer free games. Steam was launched in 2003 and currently has over 150 million registered users, and has over 50 thousand games available for purchase.
As well as very popular games, Steam also has a lot of small games made by individuals or start-up companies called independent game developers. This offers gamers a lot of variety.
How does Steam work?
Steam is a very simple online shop to use - gamers can search for the title of any game or browse games by genre. Steam also recommends and suggests games that people might want to buy, based on their previous purchases.
Steam focuses on selling digital games, meaning that the games can be downloaded straight to your computer rather than having to wait for a game disc to arrive. Being able to play games immediately after purchase is a huge draw that many people like about Steam.
Once games have been bought, they can usually be returned for a refund within 14 days, as long as they have not been played for more than two hours. This can be very helpful in case your child accidentally buys a game they do not want, or if they buy a game that does not work with their PC.
Steam hosts a hub, called the Steam Launcher. Here, you can view all the games you have bought, and you can easily start any of those games without having to find them in the PC's file system.
How old do you have to be to use Steam?
Steam's user agreement states that users need to be 13 or older in order to make an account. However, it's not impossible for younger children to use the Steam account of older siblings or friends. Some children may even consider using fake dates of birth.
Is Steam free?
Steam itself is free to use, but most of the games cost money to buy. Some of these games can be very cheap, even £1 or less, but there are also popular modern games that can be £40 or more.
What is Steam Wallet?
Steam Wallet is a tool that lets users add money to their account - think of it as a gift card. Someone can put money on the account, or you can purchase codes in stores that let you add money to the Steam Wallet. The Steam Wallet can then be used to pay for games.
Does Steam have a chat?
Yes, Steam has chat options. Steam users can talk with people on their friend list via text and voice chat. Users can also talk with strangers in group chats, or chat with groups of strangers and friends. A lot of the chat features are not moderated for children, so you might want to look at parental controls to make sure your child does not come across inappropriate content in the chat features.
Is Steam safe for children?
Steam is a major online store that has additional features that allow chat and messaging. With limited moderation and loose verification around age, it is possible for young users to be exposed to inappropriate material.
A lot of the games sold on Steam have PEGI age ratings. These ratings are based on the content of each game, their language, level of violence and whether or not it includes explicit adult material.
Are there parental controls on Steam?
Yes, Steam has a comprehensive set of parental controls to protect your children when they use the platform. Steam calls their parental controls Family View.
Once you set up your Family View, you can set what your child can and can't have access to. This means you can stop younger children from accessing online chat, message boards, or other social features. You can also set up a Family Game Library, where children can only play games that you allow them to. Alternatively, you can set Steam to filter out any games that include mature content such as nudity, gore, violence, or profanity. This means that you can prevent your children from seeing content that is not age appropriate.
Are there privacy or security settings on Steam?
By default, all Steam users are able to see your child's Steam profile. However, you can change your child's profile to private in the Settings menu. This means that strangers will not be able to find your child's profile and contact them online.
Your child's data and information will be protected by Steam Guard, which requires two-factor authentication when a new computer tries to log into their account. Your child should also make their password very strong and include numbers, capital letters, and special characters if possible.
Can I manage my child’s spending on Steam?
Steam is a popular shop because there are so many games to buy, but this can encourage children - and adults - to spend too much money and buy too many games. GoHenry has great benefits for parents that combat this issue. For example, you can set spending controls that limit where and how much your kids can spend. You can also use your parent app to easily add or change the settings.
With your permission, kids can use their GoHenry pre-paid to make purchases online. With the companion app, parents and guardians can check their child's bank account, set permissions, and send money.