Online games can be great fun for children, but there are several risks involved, which you can reduce with the correct approach.
The risks arise largely from the vast number of people both in the UK and abroad who are also playing, the minimal restrictions involved and the fact that they are not face-to-face. Your child cannot be sure who they are playing against and chatting to, or what their true motives are. Sadly, being taken advantage of by strangers with sexual, abusive, fraudulent or other criminal motives is becoming more commonplace. Other risks include playing games with an inappropriate age rating, running up bills on your credit card, spending hours at a time on online games to the exclusion of exercise, socialising and schoolwork.
To keep your child’s online gaming safe have open and honest conversations with your children about their online gaming and the risks involved. Educate your children about the dangers of revealing private information such as their email address, home address, family members or financial details. Unfortunately it is necessary to explain that not everybody is who they seem or claim to be, and their motives may be dishonourable. Tell your children not to respond to bullying or other abuse, and to report it to you straight away.
You should join your children in online gaming from time to time and randomly. This will give you an idea of the games they’re playing, whether the content is appropriate and who they are connecting with. Set and monitor limits for the amount of daily or weekly time your children spend online gaming. You can find further helpful information on sites like www.nspcc.org www.getsafeonline.org www.mumsnet.com