Keeping your child safe whilst online Gaming
Online gaming means you can play in real time with people across the world through a computer, games console, tablet or smartphone connected to the internet. Games can offer children a world of adventure to immerse themselves in, but it’s important to understand how children can stay safe and what games are appropriate for their age.
Guidance for Parents
Gaming is a fun and sociable way to spend time, encouraging teamwork and developing skills. All good stuff, but there are a few things you need to be aware of:
- Get involved by finding out what type of games your child enjoys and making sure they’re appropriate for their age
- Some games let children play and chat with anyone in the world. This means they might come across offensive language and bullying
- Not everyone online is who they say they are. Children should avoid giving out personal details that could identify them or their location
- Some games encourage players to buy extra elements during the game – children have been known to run up large bills without realising
- In extreme cases bullying, also known as ‘griefing’, can be used as a tactic to win games. Children may find themselves either bullying or being bullied.
Especially for younger children, change the settings on your tablet or smartphone to ‘airplane’ mode. That way, they can play the game offline without making accidental purchases or connecting with someone they don’t know.
Read each game’s advice for parents and play the game yourself to help you understand more about how the game your child is playing works and its appropriateness. Teach your children to protect themselves – remind them not to share personal information.
Refer to internetmatters.org for more advice on online gaming.
PEGI age ratings
Age ratings are systems used to ensure that entertainment content, such as games, but also films, tv shows or mobile apps, is clearly labelled with a minimum age recommendation based on the content they have. These age ratings provide guidance to consumers, parents in particular, to help them decide whether or not to buy a particular product for a child.
The PEGI rating considers the age suitability of a game, not the level of difficulty. A PEGI 3 game will not contain any inappropriate content, but can sometimes be too difficult to master for younger children. Reversely, there are PEGI 18 games that are very easy to play, yet they contain elements that make them inappropriate for a younger audience.
The PEGI (Pan European Game Information) labels appear on a game’s packaging indicating one of the following age levels: 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18. They provide a reliable indication of the suitability of the game content for different ages. Descriptors will indicate the main reasons why a game has received a particular age rating. There are eight such descriptors: bad language, discrimination, drugs, fear, gambling, sex, violence and online gameplay with other people.
If you’d like to know more about how to protect your children’s privacy and online safety on various online Gaming Consoles, Handhelds, Smartphones and Tablets see ‘PEGI Parental Control Tools’.