As you may well know, gaming online is hugely popular amongst children. Social media and online gaming have become the primary method of communication and social interaction for the younger generations. By using smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and laptops, children have access to games pretty much anytime, anyplace. It’s not unusual to become worried for the safety of your child as they game online. I know I definitely worried. If you are looking to protect children from cyberbullying, addictive behaviors, or even malware from dodgy websites, here are a few simple strategies that can help you.
Communication is key
Agree with your children on how long and when they can play. Set boundaries to make sure that they do not spend all of their time playing online and feel alienated from the ‘real’ world. Come up with a schedule with set hours that seems reasonable. You could also introduce them to other hobbies and activities so that online gaming doesn’t become their only interest. They will highly benefit from a bit of diversity and structure, as it will help them focus on other tasks such as school homework or being with their friends. And when comes the time to play they will appreciate it even more and not take it for granted.
Online games are often played using an online chat; make sure that your children are using nicknames that do not reveal their true identity. Talk to them about not sharing any of their personal information such as; passwords addresses and phone numbers. I have found that my kids were more sensible and careful once I informed them of some of the dangers. Children like to feel trusted. If you inform them and trust them, rather than punish them for any mistakes they make, they are far more likely to stay safe online.
Install parental control software
Parental control tools, such as filters and blocks, will help you manage what your children are exposed to while online. A lot of adverts and pop-ups can contain malware or inappropriate material. You can also have control over time-limits, meaning your children cant play longer than their designated hours. This software may take some time to install and set-up. But it is well worth it for the peace of mind.
Engage with your children’s interests
The games our children play may be different from the games you may play. But one key tactic in making sure your children are being safe is to engage with them and play their games. Even though rainbow six is one of my favorite games, I was more than happy to give Fortnite a try considering how much my children love it. Spending time with them while gaming is a great way to bond with them as well as keeping them safe.
Prevent your kids from too much isolation
Loneliness in children is not unheard of. But it is an issue that is often ignored. And it is one of the driving forces that lead to childhood gaming addiction. So it is important you make sure your child is engaging, not only with you but with other children in the real world. Maybe sign them up for some sports activities or after-school clubs.