Online gaming has been around for some time now and can have a positive effect on development. Navigating the constantly changing digital world can leave some scratching their heads. With an increasing amount of gaming content featuring online interactivity, how do you as parents and carers ensure your child is safe while enjoying their gaming experiences?
Parental controls exist to help you manage what content your child is able to access on all the devices in your house. By utilising the parental controls on your devices you will be able to:
- Set specific time limits on your child’s use
- Control/block games and websites your child can access
- Prevent children from using specific programs
- Manage content children can search for online
It is important to be aware of the range of parental controls available. They are usually available on computer operating systems, social networks, search engines, games consoles and more. No parental control tool is 100% effective, so helping your child build good online safety habits is just as important.
The parental control setup varies between devices and platforms. The Australian eSafety website has conveniently provided a comprehensive guide on how to utilise the parental settings on all of your devices.
There are certain risks if your child uses the internet to communicate with others – for example, on social media or within games. These include the contact and conduct risks.
Contact: Children may come into contact with people they don’t know or adults posing as children online. Teaching your child how to recognise inappropriate contact is crucial and will be the foundation to how they interact with others online. Have a look at the unwanted contact and grooming article for tips on how to talk to your children about socialising online.
Conduct: Children may act in ways that might hurt others, or become the target of this kind of behaviour. Recent studies about cyberbullying show that about 1 in 4 children have experienced cyberbullying, and 1 in 5 admit to having cyberbullied someone. It is never too early to teach good habits and now that children are experiencing technology from such a young age, it is important to communicate the basic digital intelligence principles with them; Respect, empathy, critical thinking, responsible behaviour and resilience. Take a look at these guides below for parents and carers of children experiencing or instigating cyberbullying.
- Guide to online bullying for parents and carers
- Help! I’m worried my child is bullying others
- Reporting cyberbullying
When you teach internet safety precautions, you protect your child from risky or inappropriate content and activities. This way your child is able to benefit from their online experiences, with the potential for learning, exploring, being creative and connecting with others.
Consider creating and customising a family media plan so everyone in the household understands what is expected of them when it comes to screen time and internet use.
Games and classifications
Common sense media is a great resource for parents and educators, allowing them to make informed decisions on the materials their children accessing. Users are able to search for games, apps, movies and television to determine whether it is appropriate for the age of their child. Each search result includes reviews from both parents and kids, a recommended age rating and a scoring system for categories such as educational value, ease of play and level of violence.
It is important to know and approve of which games your child is playing. As a parent or carer, you are the best person to decide which films and computer games are okay for your child to watch and play. You know what your child can comprehend and cope with, and which types of content that might upset them or cause concern for you. Have conversations about their preferred games and what types of games you will allow. It is your right and responsibility to prevent purchase and use of games that you deem inappropriate. Whether that is excessive violence or mature content, the decision is ultimately yours.
A simple strategy to assessing the material is by checking the rating set by the Australian Classification Board. This information is clearly listed on the game case and on gaming consoles. If you are unable to find the rating, you can search the Australian Classification website. For more information on ratings, check out the video at the bottom of the page.
Like a lot of aspects of raising kids, when it comes to video games, the healthiest approach is moderation.
- Set clear limits on your child’s gaming
- Have consoles and devices set up in the main part of the house instead of bedrooms
- Make sure you know and approve of which games your child is playing
- Allow gaming after other responsibilities like homework and chores have been completed
- Allow flexibility with the rules you set - You can follow your plan for 1 or 2 months and then reassess it
- Set realistic consequences to breaking the rules
- Identify other recreational activities and offer positive reinforcement for non-gaming activities
Reserve these books and collect from your nearest library:
- Game on! 2020: The ultimate guide to gaming
- The Minecraft guide for parents: down-to-earth advice for parents of children playing Minecraft by Cori Dusmann
- The tech diet for your child & teen by Brad Marshall
- Raising humans in a digital world: helping kids build a healthy relationship with technology by Diana Graber
- Digital kids: how to balance screen time, and why it matters by Martin L. Kutscher
- Families in the digital age: every parent's guide by Toni Hassan
Read these magazines on your device:
- Maximum PC
- Official PlayStation Magazine – UK edition
- PC Magazine
- Help! My kid is a gamer on ABC iView
- eSafety - Gaming
- eSafety for Young People
- Australian Council on Children and the Media
- Online safety for under 5's
- Understanding types of genres in gaming
- Raising Children: The Australian Parenting Website
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