Online gaming: tips for playing safe

There's a game out there for everyone. Some might prefer sporting games like FIFA and NBA. Others play adventure games such as Fortnite and Minecraft. Video games are arguably better than ever - because almost all of them allow you to play online with friends.

It's not just young people that are gaming online. Did you know that there are over 2 billion gamers across the world? (Newzoo, Global Games Market Report, 2018). And these gamers aren't just wasting their time -  the benefits of gaming include improvement of coordination, problem-solving skills and brain speed to name a few.

Gaming is more fun when people...

  • Treat others with respect
  • Play fairly and within the rules of the game
  • Keep personal information private
  • Make sure that content they’re sharing is not racially, religiously or sexually offensive

Chatting to other gamers can make it more fun too. It's likely that you'll chat to people that you've never met in real life. They might make you laugh, or give you great gaming tips. And it can feel like you know them well, especially if you voice chat with them through an app like Discord. But remember - it's easy for people to lie online, and some gamers might put pressure on you to do things you're not comfortable with.

Listen to yourself

People online can sometimes ask us to do things that we don't want to do. Listen to yourself and trust your gut instincts before taking the next step.

Gamers to look out for

  • They seem too good to be true

    Do they like all the same things as you? Do they say nice things about you all of the time? It’s great to game with people that you have things in common with, but sometimes people lie to build a relationship with you, and pressure you into doing things.

  • They want to chat in private

    Nearly all games have the option to ‘chat’ - you don’t need to add gamer friends on private messaging apps like Skype or WhatsApp anymore. Avoid private chats as people are more likely to make you uncomfortable there.

  • They say sexual things

    If they try to talk to you about sex, and particularly if they want to talk about sex quickly, they’re probably not a ‘real’ friend. If their sexual chat makes you feel uncomfortable, you could speak to an adult that you know and trust (like a teacher).

  • They're much older than you

    Gamers come in all different shapes and sizes. You’re likely to have fun chatting with gamers of all ages. But it’s strange for adults to try and get really close to you, read our advice about dealing with older ‘friends’.

  • They put pressure on you

    It’s never ok for someone to make you feel like you have to do something. Good friends don’t tell you what to do, or who you can and can’t be friends with. If someone has pressured or forced you to take a naked pic, it is never too late to get help, report to CEOP.

5 steps for safer gaming

  • Block people that make you feel uncomfortable

    If someone makes you feel upset, block them so they can’t make you feel that way again. See our information about ‘Blocking’ below. 

  • Keep personal information private

    Don’t give out any personal information that could identify you or your location. Rather than using a photo of yourself as your profile picture, why not create an avatar to use instead?

  • Be careful about meeting up

    It’s always best not to meet up with people that you only know online. Even if you have mutual friends, they could still be lying about who they are. If you do decide to meet up, take a trusted adult with you. And always meet in a busy public place.

  • Take breaks

    When you’re spending a lot of time on a game, it can be difficult to tell if your gamer friends are real or not. Take regular breaks and talk to family and friends about your gaming world.

  • Speak to a trusted adult

    If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, talking to someone about what’s happened might make you feel better. Perhaps there’s an adult that you know and trust that you could talk to. Or you could speak to a counsellor at Childline confidentially by calling 0800 1111.

Blocking and reporting in games

Most games (whether they’re played on a PC, games console or mobile app) will allow you to block and report users that upset you. This is done in slightly different ways on every game and/or platform. Usually you find a players profile, or their name in your friends list, and then click block/report.

Blocking

When you block someone it normally means that although they can still send you messages, you will not receive them.

If you play on a games console and the person you want to block is on your friends list, the guides below will help you to block that user.

 Xbox blocking guide

 PlayStation blocking guide

Reporting

Sometimes blocking isn’t enough. Some users should be reported to stop them from contacting other gamers too. Report users that:

● Stalk, bully, discriminate against or abuse you or other users
● Are disruptive or threatening
● Share other users' and your own personal and account information.

Here’s how to report users on PlayStation and Xbox:

Xbox reporting guide

PlayStation reporting guide

Find out more about unacceptable behaviour in games by reading the PlayStation and Xbox codes of conduct.

Are you being bullied in an online game?

If you’re being bullied, there’s lots of help and advice out there.

Talk to Childline

On the Childline site you can find out more about online bullying. Being bullied can really knock your confidence so they also provide tips on ways to be assertive which can help deal with bullying and build up your self-esteem.

You can also speak to a counsellor on 0800 1111.

www.childline.org.uk