The popularity of gaming
Gaming is a popular with children, young people and adults across the world. Many games have an interactive online element- whether it's playing against others, chatting or making purchases.
For most children and young people, gaming is a fun way to spend time with friends. Gaming creates opportunities to develop teamwork, concentration skills and problem-solving.
While playing games online is often great fun, it's important you understand what risks there are and what measures you can take to protect them while they’re playing their favourite games.
Online games are social activities. Many games have functions allowing users to chat with one another, which can be risky.
Chatting with people they don’t know. Gaming is different to social networks, as players often play against people they don’t know, and this may include adults.
Inappropriate or unmoderated chat. While many in-game chat functions are monitored, and players look after each other, chat is in the moment. In some games swearing and insults are common, especially when a player hasn’t performed very well. Mean comments or insults can hurt, and competitive criticism might feel like bullying for some children.
Requests to chat in private. Some people online genuinely just want to chat about gaming. But once they move to private chat, your child could be exposed to greater risks. They might share personal information or feel pressured to do something that they don’t want to do. If the chat is happening on a different chat or messaging app, then it will no longer be monitored by the game.
Four tips to help you to support your child to stay safe when chatting
- Have ongoing conversations with your child about who they are talking to online. Discuss who they are, whether they know them offline and what they share with them.
- Take time to explore games with your children. Ask them to show you what they like about the game and take an interest. Speak with them about making their profile private if possible and talk with them about information that is safe to share, for example nicknames as opposed to full names. Read our article about personal information for more advice.
- Be aware of the chat platforms your child is using. Ask your child about what they would do if someone within a game asked to talk to them in private whether that’s on another platform or within the game. Help your child to identify this warning sign and explain what they can do can help them to keep safe.
- All young people need support to make safe decisions online. It is recommended that primary aged children remain under adult supervision whilst gaming, for example ensuring an adult is within earshot of conversations and able to see any chat taking place.
For more information and advice read our In-game chat: what parents and carers need to know article created in partnership with Ukie (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment).