Gone are the days when playing games for most kids means going out in an open field equipped with footballs or baseballs and bats. When a makeshift basketball court in a vacant space beside the house is enough. When most girls enjoy changing dolls’ dresses and shoes and grooming their hair. Or preparing “meals” on cooking playsets.
These are not just games. These teach kids to mingle with other kids. Also, socializing means walking on a hike or swimming to a nearby lake.
When technology sets in, it brings different changes in kids’ lives. Internet connections paved the way to a more comfortable and accessible way of learning, communication, and entertainment. One can always stay online and available for any online activities. One of which can be very enticing to children is online gaming. And that gives a hugely different meaning to a kid’s playtime.
Today, a child can play on consoles and computers, through mobile apps and game website. This is so common that you can see kids busy with their mobile gadgets almost anywhere. He can also choose to play by himself or play and connect with another player or players anywhere in the world – either with people they know or not.
Kids say that online games make them feel relaxed and have fun, and to socialize with other people. But it is through this medium where different dangers start coming in. Who knows, you might be welcoming predators to enter your house making your kids as their prey.
Gaming can be fun and it is a platform where many kids enjoy. But this is what evil opportunists used to exploit and take advantage of children. Here’s a list of some risks in the online gaming world.
Cyber Bullying – Gamers are composed of diverse kids or people for that matter. They grow up in different environmental settings and parental upbringing. Not all can be nice. They select random targets and your child can be one. They can constantly curse or say horrible things to your kids and became their constant target. Cyberbullying can also manifest in excluding your kids from playing and destroying his online items and creations. Worst, bully gamers can hack your kid’s account, steal their identity or share personal information.
Sexual Harassment – Online games can be an avenue where adults can quarry on children. There are cases of online grooming in online games. Online grooming is when someone builds an online relationship with younger persons and later tricks them to do something sexual. It can start as a simple buying of items for the online game and help in building your child’s community. Groomers can give compliments that can later ask personal information to your child and invites them to conversations outside the game through other messaging apps.
Unappropriate content – Some online games can include contents not suitable for kids like sex, violence, and horror. Some games include pornography in their content. This can be stimulating and disturbing to children especially that it is presented more lifelike.
Privacy issues – Some sites require creating a profile that can give away some personal information.
Addiction – Online games can be addicting and it can reflect on a child’s behavior. He may lose interest in studying as well as in communicating with others. They may stop seeing relatives and friends. The can be uncontrollable in playing that they skipped meals and dodged sleeping.
Protecting kids online
Orient your kids with the dangers of online gaming and teach them how to protect themselves from these dangers.
As parents, check the game contents and activate the safety settings that your child needs. Block or report unnecessary contents and items. Reading reviews can also help to choose games that are safe for your kids. These can restrict who can access your child’s profile, decide what he can play and see who they communicate with.
Tell your kids to not play with people they barely know, or much better, with people you barely know. Don’t let your children give personal information to strangers.
Don’t let your children talk to someone they met in the game in private messaging apps. It can be used to trick them or asked them to do something sexual.
Tell them not to feel the pressure of giving back favors to those who helped them in the game.
Create an account with a unique username and strong passwords. Don’t choose one that reveals personal information.
Teach them appropriate behavior. Certain pop ups and conversations that they may see or hear can be horrible and violent. They can adapt it later if they are not properly guided.
Avoid scams when buying virtual goods. It requires real money and children should not splurge on it.
Read gaming sites’ terms and conditions.
Set some rules and restrictions with regard to your child’s gaming activity. Limit their time spent on mobile gadgets and teach them to prioritize more important matters like school activities and assignments, family relationships and tasks than online gaming.
Have open communication with your kids. Encourage them to open up should they feel or heard some threat or anything offensive. Advise them to report sexual harassment and bullying messages.
Mobile gaming gadgets are as common as mobile phones today. It is common to see children holding their gadgets and playing games. With the different dangers that lurk the online gaming world, parents should supervise their kids especially when they are still young. It is better to protect the children that feel sorry later. Online gamings’ harmful effects can lead to bad behavior on a child later on in his life. It is the parents’ responsibility to safeguard their kids for they are still young to understand everything and know the consequence of their actions.
Open communication is essential to monitor your kids’ online activity. Establishing trust and honesty will not only build better relationships among family members, but it can also train children to institute self-discipline at a young age. In other cases that it is still possible, it is better to delay a child’s online gaming activity in a more appropriate age wherein they can understand the dangers it poses.