The concerns parents have around gaming are similar to concerns about other technology: interaction with strangers, the time spent, and inappropriate content. What can parents do to address these concerns? Parents can empower themselves to keep their kids safe when they play games.
Keep An Open Dialogue
One of the most important things you can do is talk to your kids. Ask them about the games that they are playing. Ask them about what the goals of the game are, and they play it. This can encourage your kids to verablize the skills they are using to play, with they play Fortnite or Pokémon Unite PC. Avoid being judgemental or dismissive about what they’re playing. Try to keep an open mind about what they like to play. Video games can be an important way for kids to socialize, and part of the appeal is discussion strategies with friends. Games can also help kids to develop digital, cooperative, and problem solving skills that they can use in their everyday lives, away from games.
Use Resource Guides
Learn about the age ratings and guides that are available. You can use resources like the Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings guide or Common Sense Media to learn more. These resources can be used to help you make informed decisions about the games you allow your children, and the setup you give them.
Mobile games can be more of a problem, as the age rating that is given in the iOS and Android App Stores can conflict with the intended and appropriate audiences. For any game, you should know of any potentially inappropriate content, but also about any interactive parts of the game, such as the ability to interact with other players, share personal information, or make in-game purchases. Do your research first, so you can clearly explain to your kids the reasoning behind any restrictions you give them. For example, you might decide to let them play a game, but only with an approved list of friends.
Set Parental Controls
The gaming industry has responded to worries about child safety by providing parental controls and settings. Gaming systems including the PS4, Xbox, and Wii come with customizable options that allow you to limit playing time, approve or disapprove online friend requests, and set which game ratings are allowed for each user of the console. You can also choose to set restrictions on downloading games across gaming systems and other digital devices like tablets and smartphones.
Play With Your Kids
Even if you don’t think you’re interested in the games they play, give them a try. Show your children that you are interested in what they’re enjoying and want to understand why they like it. You might not be the best opponent or teammate they’ve ever had, but they’ll appreciate the effort you’ve made to join in.
Remember that your children aren’t just playing games. They’re also searching YouTube and platforms like Twitch to watch videos of their games to see gameplay and learn tips and strategies. Some of these videos may not suitable, so keep an eye on these too.
Parenting digitally savvy kids can be hard, but it can be down. Do your research and take an interest in their hobbies. Make use of the resources available to you, and learn as you go.
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