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How to stay safe when gaming online

Find out how to help your kids stay safe when gaming online with our handy guide.

Gaming has changed massively over the years. Kids are no longer stuck in their bedroom, with their friends huddled around a tiny TV screen. Instead they’re online, playing and chatting with people from all over the world, whether they’re friends or complete strangers. Now that it’s easier to play with anyone, it’s important to make sure that kids stay safe online. In this guide, we’ll tell you how you can protect your children when they’re playing games.

Keep your account details personal

First of all, it’s important to keep all personal information private. The account your kids use for their games will hold a lot of valuable information, like card details and addresses, so they need to be as secure as possible. If you pay for a lot of games on an online platform, like Steam, you’ll need to keep your card details safe and secure, so make sure you choose a strong password that uses capital letters, numbers and special characters. Your child will also need a username, something that other players will know and recognise them by. So, make sure they don’t use something that reveals important information like their real name or birthday.

Talking to other players online

A huge part of online gaming is talking with other players from all over the world. This could be done by using voice chat or on online forums, and when it’s done safely, it can be a great way for your kids to learn about teamwork. It’s vital that you know who your kids are communicating with and how. Make them aware that if they are talking to strangers, they should stay within the game’s community and never take their conversations over to other social media sites or chat services. Also, make sure they know that they should never give out any personal information, like their name, age or telephone number. If you think someone is upsetting your child online, most games let you mute certain players or block them for things like inappropriate behaviour or abuse.

Extra safety tips

  • Just like movies, games have a rating that tells you how old people should be to play a game. In Europe, this is decided by PEGI (Pan European Gaming Information) and also tells you if the game includes things like violence and strong language.
  • There’s no harm in wanting to get involved yourself! Play the games your children are playing and you can judge for yourself if they are suitable. Plus, you may have more fun than you think!
  • Gaming can be an addictive hobby, and it’s important for kids to have enough time for other activities like their homework and spending time with family and friends. UKIE, the association of UK Interactive Entertainment, recommend players should take a break every 45-60 minutes.
  • If you’d like to know more about how you can keep your kids safe when they’re playing games online, check out the NSPCC website or contact them at 0800 800 5000.