Video games are as ubiquitous as TV and movies as an activity people of all ages can enjoy. And while they do offer benefits like improved decision making and problem solving, there are some dangers that you, as a parent, should be aware of if you want your kids to play safely. Along with that knowledge, it helps to know how you can best manage these risks and the tools you have for dealing with them. Here are a few things you need to know about kids and video game safety.
- Make Sure Your Game Is Age-Appropriate
Just like movies, some video games are appropriate for all ages, and others are meant for mature audiences. Ratings for video games, given by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, are shown on the front of the box and are easily found in online stores. The rating system for video games differs somewhat from movies, however. Ratings for video games range from E for Everyone to M for Mature. These are similar to G and R ratings, respectively. There is a higher rating called Adults Only, which is only suitable for those 18 and up, and these games tend to have strong sexual content. However, this is exceedingly rare, and most retailers don’t carry games with this rating.
- Talk To Your Child About Communicating Online
Online communications are rarely like real-life interactions. Because of the nature of anonymity, it is common for video game chats to be less than friendly. According to government officials, it is important to warn your children about online conversations, as there are special risks specific to these types of interactions. Cyberbullying, bad
language, and hate speech are all too common, and there is the threat of online predators who may attempt to coax your child into giving them private information to meet in person.
If the headset your child uses for gaming comes with a built-in microphone, consider turning off the mic in your computer settings if you want to limit voice communication with other gamers. If the problem becomes serious, you may want to consider turning off communication features altogether.
- Use Parental Controls
Many gaming consoles have built-in parental controls so you can determine what your child can access. The Nintendo Switch, for example, lets you keep track of how long your children have been using it with a mobile app. You can set a cap on how long the console may be used; when the time limit is reached, a notification will pop up, and play will no longer be possible. The app also gives you control of online sharing, shop purchases and game rating restrictions. The Sony PlayStation has similar parental controls, as does the Xbox.
PC games are different, however, as there is no dedicated platform for PC games, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. One of the most popular platforms, Steam, does have parental controls, but it cannot control anything not played on Steam. The same goes for Epic Games. Most PC gaming platforms have parental controls, but you will need to set them up individually if your child uses more than one.
Video games also require up-to-date hardware to be played effectively, such as modern computers and modems. To get the best experience possible, you’ll want the right equipment. Stay updated on the latest tech products and gadgets by using sites like PC Gamer.
If your kids are playing video games, you’ll want to ensure that they’re protected from online threats and mature content. Thankfully, there are a multitude of resources that can help, and by being aware of the risks inherent to video games and how to best manage them, you can be sure that your kids are safely having fun.
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