During Lockdown we actively encouraged our children to go online to access school work it became increasingly difficult to set boundaries for them when they play online games. At school we talk about SMART with the children but getting them to apply this advice at home can sometimes be hard. There are many resources to support parents to manage their child's access to games but less for the children themselves - most guides are aimed at children older than 11.
internetmatters.org is a really useful website that covers a lot of online safety issues and also has a good section about online gaming - the video below is one of the resources filmed by a parent who became concerned about her daughters online gaming behaviours.
- Talk – be open and honest about their online gaming and make sure they are aware of the risks involved.
- Teach them about the dangers of revealing private information like email addresses, home address or financial details.
- Explain that not everyone online has honourable intentions and people do lie, so they need to be cautious.
- Report – Much like with other bullying, teach them to not respond to bullies online but to report it straight away.
- Educate yourself on how to report bullies through online gaming so that you can then teach the children.
- For parents, monitor the amount of time they spend online and give them a set limit.
- Always check certificates – it’s 18 for a reason! Are you confident that you know what content is in a particular game? If you aren’t sure whether you would want your children to play it, research the game first yourself to find out what is involved before making a decision. Never give your child access to your payment details.
Playing online games doesn’t need to be scary when you are aware of what you can do. As with anything, there will always be risks but if you teach children to be safe online the risks can be minimised.