Checklist for safer online gaming
Playing is a natural part of childhood. Gaming, like many other activities in digital environments, can bring much joy and many benefits to children. Read our tips which help protect children from the more negative sides of gaming environments:
1. Play together
Be present in the child’s daily gaming life and ask the child to introduce you to their favorite games. Playing together allows you to observe the other players’ behavior and the content of their conversations. It is always good to start by discussing the positive aspects of gaming, because through open and pleasant discussions it will be easier for the child to also tell you about more unpleasant experiences online.
2. Check the child’s public gaming profiles
Make sure that the child’s gaming profile does not immediately reveal that it is indeed a child’s profile or any other private information (e.g., full name, date of birth, their own or even their pet’s picture). In online games it may often feel like you are chatting with a friend of your own age, but in reality you cannot be sure who is behind the gamer’s nickname.
3. Follow the age restrictions set by experts
Age restrictions have been set by experts to protect children from content that may be harmful for their age- and developmental level. Following age restrictions helps to ensure that children have the opportunity to safely enjoy the benefits and joys that games have to offer, without encountering inappropriate or harmful content or situations, in which they do not yet have the skills to act safely.
4. Talk about fair behavior in games
Encourage and support the child to talk about any inappropriate behavior that they encounter in games to a safe adult and to report it to the game service. Gaming can provoke big feelings and it is important to remind the child that you must treat everyone respectfully also in digital environments.
5. Set common rules for gaming times early on
The adult being aware of the child’s activities and contacts in game environments is more important than setting strict screen times. Nevertheless, children rarely know how to regulate their own gaming time and it is therefore important to agree upon some common rules early on. The Phone Parking Lot helps to limit the time spent on gaming and helps to ensure regular breaks from digital media. (Tip! You can also park game controllers/joysticks in the phone parking lot)
6. Be aware of your child’s gaming friends
Online games often take place in multiplayer environments, where it is difficult to fully avoid contact with strangers. Encourage the child to tell you about the conversations they have during games and ensure that they understand never to move onto more private chat platforms with their gaming friends.