How to protect your child when they are gaming

Many children today enjoy using devices. But if your child is gaming online, it can be hard to know how to best protect them and keep them safe.

To help you, Nick Arran, Managing Director of GAME at Frasers Group, shares his tips on how to help keep your children and teenagers safe online

How can parents ensure their child is gaming safely?

There are many precautions that parents can take to make sure that their child’s gaming habits are safe and beneficial for their future development.

One simple way to help you ensure safety is by checking the age rating of any games that your children play. Another way is to turn off chat functions to prevent strangers from speaking to your children.

All consoles including the Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X/S have privacy functions that you can use to protect your child’s profile. You could also consider putting time limits on your child’s gaming to prevent excessive usage. 

How can parents best communicate with their children about watching out for online dangers?

Having an open and honest conversation about the risks is the best thing to do, allowing children to ask questions and raise any worries they have.

You should take the time to build trust between yourself and your child, and ensure that your child knows not to share any personal information or take anything from strangers. You should also encourage your child to speak up if they’re the target of cyberbullying. 

What risks does gaming online pose for children and teens?

Without education on safe gaming, children and teens can be exposed to many potential risks, including in-game bullying and online grooming. 

Many games overlap with social media networks and allow people from all over the world to communicate and play together. However, this can expose children to strangers who may take advantage of them.

The best solution is to ensure that your child’s profile has no personal information attached to it, and ensure that they know not to tell strangers personal information. This involves using a username that doesn’t have their real name in it, not telling anyone details like their school or street name and also not having any images on their profile.  

What are the benefits for a young person in online gaming?

Gaming can be incredibly beneficial for young people, helping to teach them how to work towards goals, celebrate wins and face failures and setbacks. This perseverance in the face of adversity can, in the long term, lead to educational and professional success for the young person.

Video games can also elicit a range of emotions, which can help children learn how to regulate their emotions in real life outside of gaming. Some games can also help children build their social skills and learn how to work well with others to achieve a common goal.

How much should children and teens game a day for good mental health?

There isn’t a fixed amount for this, as everyone’s personal circumstances and needs are vastly different from each other. What works for one family and their situation will never be the same as someone else’s. 

How can parents know that their child isn’t talking/gaming with strangers?

Some consoles, including the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S, have settings that ensure your child can only talk to friends and no strangers. Parents can do this in specific games or can turn off chat functions completely to help eradicate the risk. 

Your child’s profile can also be set to be private so that it can only interact with friends that your child, or you, have accepted. This can help you restrict who can interact with your child, while preserving the social aspect of gaming.

Read more online safety tips

You can read more advice on protecting your child when they are online in these articles:

Author: Nick Arran, Managing Director of GAME at Frasers Group.

GAME Retail Ltd is a leading gaming and entertainment company, providing a range of gaming, toys, entertainment products and services to its customers. GAME’s UK retail businesses spread across over 250 standalone stores and concessions within Sports Direct and House of Fraser.