Online gaming is hugely popular. There are so many different types of games to play, so most kids will use the internet for gaming at some point. However, the world of online gaming does come with some risks you should know about so that you can keep your child safe online.
What is online gaming?
Online games are just like regular video games but are played with other people over the internet. Online gaming has become much more popular over the last ten years due to the fact that most people have a fast and stable internet connection. There are online games in almost every genre of gaming. This includes racing, building, survival, farming and more.
How does online gaming work?
Players launch a game and either find other players to play with or just join a server where a game is already in progress. This depends on the game as shooters differ from strategy or RPG games.
Online games are often confused with local multiplayer games. Local multiplayer games are played only with people who are within close distance from each other. Usually, players are in the same room or playing together on the same device. You'll find local multiplayer games on consoles such as the Nintendo DS.
You'll find online games on consoles like a Playstation, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch. There are also a lot of online games available on mobile phones, computers and tablets. This means that you may want to consider how to keep your kids safe on phones, PCs, and other devices.
What are the risks of online gaming?
While gaming can have some benefits, it's also important to consider the potential risks of online gaming. Some of the most common risks are:
1. Bullying in online games - Also known as cyberbullying, this might mean they get harassed, receive hurtful messages, or see messages with inappropriate language.
2. Scamming -Some people use online games to try to scam others. Generally, scammers will claim to give an in-game item or currency in exchange for real-world money. Scammers do this to get money or payment details from other players.
3. Privacy and personal information issues - There are a lot of concerns over privacy when using the internet. Giving away personal details online can put your child at risk. They might be contacted or approached by a stranger, or they might be at risk of identity fraud.
4. In-game shopping - In-game shopping is an integral part of many online games. This can include the option to buy items or in-game currency for real money. In-game shopping can be very tempting for kids, and they are often encouraged to spend more money than they might intend to. There have even been cases where kids have spent a lot of their parents' money on online games.
5. Online games addiction - Most online games have an experience-based reward system, where you level up, become more powerful, or get other incentives to keep playing. This can create a situation where children might want to play games rather than do homework, chores, exercise, or enjoy other hobbies.
6. Physical health impact - Playing online games too much can also cause physical health problems such as eye strain, fatigue from the lack of sleep, back pain from poor posture, or damage to the hands and fingers from using a mouse and keyboard or game controller.
7. Talking to strangers - While some games only let you play with people you know, a lot of games let you interact with strangers. This means your child could be talking with a stranger who might try to get their personal details or expose them to inappropriate content.
How to keep kids safe while online gaming
It's important to keep your child safe online, but there are special things to consider with online gaming. You may want to:
Check what the game is about
There are so many different games your children can play. It's important to find out what a game involves before you let your children play it. There are online farming games that are suitable for all ages, as well as online shooting games that are only suitable for older teenagers, or adults.
You can find out more about a game by looking at reviews online. You can even find video reviews for most games that will show you what the gameplay is like. Most games also have an PEGI rating. This shows the age range that this game is suitable for. For example, if a game is rated 7, this means it is suitable for children ages 7 and older.
Change settings/activate parental controls
Parental controls can help limit what your child sees in a game, and who they can talk to. Some popular games such as Roblox and Fortnite have in-built parental controls. You can also set parental controls on most game consoles, such as the PS4 or PS5, and the Xbox One.
Talk to your child regularly about online safety
One of the best ways to make sure your child stays safe while gaming online is to talk to them about online safety. You can talk about different subjects as they come up, and help make sure that your child has a good grounding on how to stay safe.
Monitor your child’s spending
If you're worried that your child might spend too much money on online games, you can monitor their spending to make sure that there are no problems. This can also help you keep an eye out in case your child gets scammed by someone online.
Set ground rules
You might want to set rules about online gaming. For example, it can be very positive to set a rule that your child should tell you if someone says something upsetting to them online. You could also set rules about how long your children can play online games for each day.
Can I manage my child's in-game spending with GoHenry?
Our parental features make it easy to decide where and how much your child can spend, which you can easily change in the app. You can also get real-time notifications when your child uses their prepaid debit card, and if their card is declined, which helps you to monitor your child’s spending. If you want to give your kids a chance to earn more money for their online games, you can set up paid tasks, as well as regular pocket money transfers straight onto their GoHenry prepaid kids' debit card.
Get started with GoHenry today to help protect your child financially when they play online games.
Amazon Prime video parental controls