4 Ways Parents Can Keep Kids Safe While Gaming

Video games can be entertaining, social, and educational. However, some can also have mature subject matter or online features that are inappropriate for younger kids. If you're a parent with children who like gaming, you should learn how to protect your kids from harmful interactions and inappropriate content. Here are four tips to help your family game safely.

1. Set Screen Time Guidelines

The CDC notes that kids between the ages of 8-18 get an average of 7.5 hours of screen time daily. Kids should balance activities that keep their minds and bodies moving, including outdoor play, reading, and socializing. Setting limits on the total amount of screen time your kids are allowed may be a good idea if you feel they are getting too much. It’s important that they buy into these limits, and you can positively support the notion by setting up a fun gaming environment. For example, kids will be more enthusiastic if you let them choose their room decor.

In addition to monitoring how much screen time your kids get, look into how they spend that time. Gaming, especially playing age-appropriate games with educational features, can have a great impact on your brain, including improved spatial visualization and cognitive function, so long as they’re used in moderation. Some other benefits include:

  • Improved reading and logic skills
  • Better decision-making
  • Enhanced curiosity
  • Exposure to technology
  • Opportunities to socialize
  • Increased motor coordination
  • Development of strategic decision-making

2. Talk About Online Safety

Many modern games have an online component, allowing players to interact and even chat with one another. Gaming presents a chance for parents to discuss online safety with their kids. Explain to your children that they should never share personal information with strangers online and remind them to be courteous and avoid cyberbullying.

Another important aspect of online safety to teach your children about is cybersecurity. Internet criminals often target gaming accounts, so you kids should understand the importance of having a strong password on their account that they never share with others. Keeping your operating system and software, including games, up to date can also help protect your family from cyber attacks.

3. Customize Your Tech and Room Setup

These days, families can use parental control features to limit what activities kids can do and the amount of time they spend doing them. Research your gaming setup, looking into safety features offered by the software and hardware you use.

See if your kids' favorite games have privacy settings, such as limiting interactions and ensuring their screen name doesn't reveal their identity. If they're playing on a device with a camera, consider disabling video and webcam features. Upgrading your gear will give you access to the newest and best parental control options, whether you use a console, a mobile device, or a gaming computer. You can also provide extra tech like a comfortable headset with a mic or a gaming chair to make their experience more enjoyable.

Speaking of comfort, consider setting up a space where kids can play comfortably, but where you can also keep an eye on things. Done properly, a dedicated entertainment space can be a boon to your property value. 

4. Get Involved in Gaming

Learning about video games and getting involved in the fun yourself can help you ensure your children are gaming safely. It's easier to monitor your kids' gaming habits if you're playing alongside them. Gaming with your kids can build social connections and offer opportunities to discuss the content in their games.

Even if you don't join them, you should learn about the different types of video games available so that you're aware of what your kids are playing. A Frontier.com study found that many parents misunderstand how video game ratings work and allow their kids to play games that are too mature for them. Familiarize yourself with media ratings and rating systems, which categorize video games based on age-appropriateness so that you can select suitable games for your family.

Video games can be a worthwhile pastime for your kids. Remember to set boundaries, discuss online behavior, empower your children to choose their own decor, use parental controls and monitor what they play so that your family can safely enjoy gaming together.