Six ways you can protect your child from online gaming abuse

Do your children play video games? Read on for six ways you can protect them from online gaming abuse.

Now that over 90% of children over the age of two play some form of video game, it’s become more important than ever to protect your child while they play games online. Especially when you consider that as many as 86% of gamers experience abuse.

Marin Cristian-Ovidiu, the CEO and inventor of shares their six tips to keep your child safe from online bullies.

1) Hide your child’s personal details  

Your child should create a nickname and use an avatar that has no connection to them, rather than displaying their real name and photo. They should never have any of their basic details (date of birth, school/college name, mobile number, and address) attached to their account, and they should never discuss them online. 

2) Show them how to spot unsafe adults

Warn your child that adults can masquerade as children to obtain sexual pictures or arrange secret meet-ups. Also warn your child about behaviours known as trolling and griefing, where people deliberately play badly or do things that make games worse for their teams. Let them know that these people are out to provoke a reaction and the best thing they can do is ignore them.

Cybercriminals often use in-game chats to perform their scams (e.g. offering fake loot boxes and downloads). Some try to get kids to give up their ‘skins’ (in-game cosmetic items) or in-app purchases by offering money. In some games, you can turn off the chat function to avoid these messages, but if you can’t, you should make sure your child is aware of the warning signs of a scam. 

3) Create a family agreement

Discuss safety issues openly with your child, and encourage them to make an agreement with you about things they will and won’t do. This should cover points like how much screen time they’re allowed and an agreement to only play age-appropriate games. Encourage your child to tell you if there are issues, but monitor their games and conversations.

4) Block them from accessing inappropriate content 

You can adjust each game’s privacy settings so you have more control over your child’s access. You can also update console settings to set age restrictions, manage online interactions, filter content, and control online purchases. This will prevent your child from being able to download games that feature adult content.

5) Have a gameplan for dealing with nasty players

Run your child through the steps of what they should do if someone becomes abusive or behaves suspiciously. First, immediately block them. Secondly, game developers usually allow you to report these people by providing screenshots or chat logs, so make sure both you and your child know how you can report suspicious or abusive individuals.

This will usually result in them getting banned from the game, meaning your child can continue playing in peace.

6) Prevent them from maxing out your card

Many games are now designed around in-game purchases, which usually charge huge amounts for cosmetic items or new characters. Charges from these purchases can stack up fast – in fact, most of these games are designed to tempt you into racking up a huge bill.

Make sure none of your cards or your bank account are attached to whatever device your child plays on so there’s no chance of them using your money to buy pixels!

Author: Marin Cristian-Ovidiu, a developer with 10+ years of experience in game design and game development, invented Masked Forces, one of his best-known games, was published on multiple platforms.