STATEN ISLAND: Many children find a sense of community through the video games they play, but that comes at a cost: Risk.
More than 24% of US video gamers are under the age of 18 with the second-largest demographic being 18-year-olds to 34-year-olds, so it's important for parents to know the risk, experts advise.
A lot of modern games will include online features to allow players to communicate with others. This can be great for friend groups to play together, however, it is also an opportunity for strangers to play and chat too," said a technical specialist at Proxyrack, a proxy provider. "This can come with many risks, for example, bullying and harsh language can be common in these chat rooms. Online grooming is also a possibility, with individuals posing as someone a lot younger than they are as a method of approaching children with ill intent."
It's important to check in with your children to ensure they are able to play their games in a comfortable and welcoming environment, he said.
"Familiarise yourself with the support options offered by the games in the case of bullying, so you know where to report other players if this behaviour persists," he said.
The tech specialist also encourages parents and guardians to check the content and ratings of the games being played by their children. If there is a dispute with the children, if the game isn't deemed appropriate, it is important to explain why you think this and suggest alternative games they can play until they are old enough for the game to be suitable.
The experts at Proxyrack suggest these five tips for keeping children safe while gaming:
— Check the game's content: Most games will contain content warnings if they include content or gameplay which could be deemed harmful or inappropriate for certain users or age groups. This can also be reflected in age ratings labelled on the game.
— Parental Settings: By checking the game settings, there is often the option to limit online access, expletives, gaming with strangers and online chat rooms within the game.
— Communication: Talk to your children about the games they are playing. Communication is also vital in the chance that they are experiencing toxic online/gaming environments with bullying or expletives.
— Set boundaries: It is important to be aware of how long your child is spending playing games, as there is the risk of addiction or dependency forming.
— Monitor Payments: Most modern game systems allow games to be purchased instantly. Don't save your payment details on the system. This will reduce the chances of your child buying a game without your permission. – Staten Island Advance, N.Y./Tribune News Service