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Online Safety for Gaming

You know the old age saying, “Don’t talk to strangers?” Well now, studies show that around 57% of teens have met a new friend online. Times are changing, so rather than resisting, let’s look at the ins and outs of kids making friends online and some safety tips!

Online communication and gaming have changed the way people meet and talk to each other. It has never been so easy to stay connected with the world, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic where in-person socializing wasn’t an option. Meeting friends through online video games can be so good for people of all ages, but this also comes with its downsides, so let's take a closer look at the positives and negatives of online gaming and also look at some safety tips that you can incorporate to keep your children safe.


1.Lifelong Friendships and Emotional Support

Online gaming gives you an opportunity to meet like-minded people with similar interests as you do. This means that it is easy to make and maintain relationships with people your meet through playing your favorite games online. Gaming has introduced me to many wonderful people online that I interact with almost daily and who provide me with support and comfort. This can help children and people of all ages to feel a sense of belonging and make friendships that can be just as valuable as real-life ones.

2. Developing Teamwork and Communication Skills

Multiplayer and co-op games require people to work together to win or complete objectives.  To achieve this, you need to communicate well and be an effective member of the team. Playing online games can help to develop communication, cooperation, and the ability to work as a team while building relationships with other players. These are all important skills that can be used in the real world, for example on group projects, in the workplace, or even in relationships. Introducing your children to online games which require communication in order to be successful in the game, can help to develop these skills even at younger ages.

3. Improved Social Skills and Confidence

Online gaming can be a good way for people who have trouble making friends in real life to learn and improve their social skills. Removing the face-to-face aspect and communicating by voice chat or text-based communication with other players helps players get over shyness and build confidence. This will help them to build their own confidence to apply to their real life.

As we mentioned earlier, unfortunately, there are some negatives to allowing children to take part in online gaming. Understanding the potential risks is very important to be aware of and educate children before they are exposed to online chat mechanics or online exposure to any online game. Let’s look at a few.



When interacting with any person in any setting, there is a potential risk of bullying and unfortunately, in the world of gaming, this still remains a risk. It's important for parents and caregivers to check in with their kids and teach their kids how to act and get help if they see this kind of behavior. Make sure that children feel comfortable discussing these concerns with you by fostering an open communication channel with them so they feel safe and comfortable to come to talk to you about any problems they have online or in the real world.

2. Inappropriate Content

Just like in real life, kids may be exposed to bad language, violent scenes, or explicit content. When chat features are involved this can heighten the chance of exposure of inappropriate content to children. Parents and caregivers should keep a close eye on the games their kids play and consider the child’s maturity when exposing them to potential risks of inappropriate content. A good idea is to check the filters which are available in the game settings to see if you can screen out any inappropriate language in chat.

3. Online Predators

This is a biggy. Unfortunately, there are bad people out in the real world and online. There are people who use online gaming to find and take advantage of people, including children. When you are online gaming, you cannot see the person behind the screen, so children do not see or understand who the person is on the other side. Parents and caregivers need to teach their kids about the dangers of sharing personal information online and to know what to look out for to prevent them from being exposed.

Something to keep in mind with online gaming is that a lot of the risks associated with online chats are also dangers that children could be exposed to in the real world. While there is a concern that you do not know or see who the child is talking to, the same principles apply as if your child was talking to a stranger. What we would not like to encourage is isolating your children from developing their social circle and confidence. A lot of children play online with their school friends, and this is a great way for them to have a sense of belonging and develop their social circle at school for example.  

While there are concerns with exposure to children gaming online, there are ways to minimize and reduce these risks to ensure that they can get the full benefits of gaming while being safe.

Tips and Tricks:  

1. Keep talking

Make sure that you are always checking in with children about the games they play and who they are interacting with. Encourage them to talk about their online experiences, good or bad, and let them know that you are there to help. Keep an eye on what your children are doing and how they are interacting while playing. Check their friend lists, chat logs, and any private messages to make sure they are safe and healthy. However, ensure that you are doing so in a way that respects their privacy. If you sneak around their chat logs, it is likely that their trust in your will break, and they will refrain from discussing important issues with you which is not what we want! So, keep an eye on things, but ensure that there is a level of trust and respect.  

2. Research and use parental controls

Most games, gaming platforms, and consoles will have settings to minimize exposure to chats in the game, so it is important that you are aware and utilize these when appropriate too. This can be to turn off voice/ text chat, minimize gore/ blood, filter mature language, and other settings depending on the game and developer. These can usually be found in the settings of the game itself or the platform that the game is played on e.g. Steam or Epic Games settings. Have a quick look before your child plays the game to see if there are any filters which your think are appropriate to apply. But remember that communication can be a key element of some games so do not be too quick to turn off all communications.  

3. Teach your child how to act responsibly online

Have a discussion with your child and tell them how important it is to not give out personal information like their real name, address, or phone number and why this is important. Such as in real life if they were talking to strangers. Beware of an easy anagram that some gamers use where they will message “ASL” which stands for age, sex, and location. This is certainly not something you want your child to be discussing and will unlikely be a requirement of a game. Discuss with your child how and when it is appropriate to discuss personal matters (if at all) bearing in mind that sometimes children like to confide in others or may message their real-life friends online for emotional support.  


Play alongside your kids so you can spend some quality time together while directly monitoring the games that they are playing and what they are exposed to. This can help to build a better relationship between you and your child as well as you understand any risks that the child may be exposed to during gameplay, plus you might have some fun! Go on give it a go! 

Since games are still a big part of modern entertainment, it's important for parents to make online safety a top priority for their kids. By knowing the risks of online gaming and taking preventative steps, parents can set up a safe gaming environment for their kids that lets them enjoy gaming in a responsible way. To protect your child's safety in the gaming community, you need to talk to them, set up parental controls, and keep a close eye on what they do online. Let's all work together to make sure that gaming stays a fun, positive experience for everyone.

By Gee Gee                 

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