Helping your kids’ game online safely and securely.
5 min read
All work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull children.
We get it. Lockdown happened and you’d be forgiven for allowing your kids a few extra minutes on the PC, PlayStation, iPad or Xbox. Without playdates, school or sport, gaming provided many children with a vital social link to interact with their friends online.
Gaming is part of their lives and will remain so as they grow older. Right now, it’s all about making sure that when they do play games, they do so safely. Think of it as a fence around a play park. But how do you build a fence around the internet?
Be engaged in what they do
You can get on with your life while your children play, but there are some basic steps you should take.
Look at the age guide for the game and read reviews. Most games will show an age rating before you download them. They will also have reviews, so check there and you will quickly get the general tone. Show an interest in the games your child plays. Ask them about what they are playing, perhaps play a couple of games with them. Use those opportunities to start and continue a conversation about online safety.
The best way to protect your child online is to protect their privacy. When you get a new game, set your privacy level. Go to ‘privacy’ or ‘settings’ and say no to things like location sharing or posting on social media.
Disable the chat function (especially if you’re parents to kids younger than 13years old). On most games, there will be a settings function, often a gear icon.
Be careful in the usernames they choose and be as anonymous as possible. Don’t use derivatives of their names, or include their age, city, school, or clubs they belong to. It’s hard to track Snoopydoodle.
Make the gaming profile private for younger kids and at most ‘friends only’ when they get older.
Your webcam is a window into your child’s life. Get rid of webcam worries by making sure it is off when they play. It is also important to invest in software that can scan for malware, just to keep the bad hats away from your child’s gaming.
“Mom, please. It’s free”. And then parents laugh. Many games start out as freemium but will prompt users to pay for a better version or offer in-play purchases. This means loading your credit card on that game. Eeek! But say you go beyond Eeek! and do load your card, your child pretty much has free-reign to purchase add-ons. New gear? New avatar? Yea they’ll take that. With a side of weapons. To put it mildly, Eeek!+++.
A way around this is to get a digital voucher (link accessible in-app only) from Spot. Not only will this keep your credit card details safe, but you can control the amount your child can spend on gaming.
Good games are good for children, socially, preparing them for adult life, and letting Jack and Jill enjoy a bit of play. Approached sensibly, it will be a win for all.