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online games can expose your kids

to more than you think.

For many kids, online games and their chat functions are a fun way to connect with friends. But not everyone in these games has good intentions. Sexual predators and exploiters hide behind cute avatars and anonymous chats to connect with and groom their victims. Keep reading to find everything you need to know to teach your kids to game safe.

the risks

  • The games themselves are not unsafe, it is the chat options available through most games that can expose your child to unsafe people and activity. 

  • Having a public profile can reveal personal information about your child, including their location.

  • Being asked to switch from a gaming platform to a social media platform where private messaging is available and maybe unmoderated can expose your child to unsuitable content.

  • Someone asking for or sending nude or sexual images or engaging in inappropriate messages.

things to consider
Just like other online activities, its necessary for parents to know the games and platforms your child is using. The best advice we can give you: play the games your child wants to play yourself.  This does not mean you have to play every single game but being familiar with different games will help you provide guidance to your child. When doing so consider the following: 

  • Does the game contain age-appropriate content? 

  • Is it a multiplayer or single player game? For multiplayer games, can you restrict who can approach or play with your child? 

  • Is there a chat option in the game (text or voice)? Is it moderated? Can it be switched off? 

  • Are there parental controls? 

  • Is there an option to block and report individuals or inappropriate activities? 

  • Are there advertisements in the game that can redirect your child to other sites? 

teach your child to game safe
When a child understands what risks to look out for, what to do, and who to reach out to, they are more likely to be safer online. Here are some useful suggestions: 

  • Have regular conversations about games they are playing and the people they are playing with; set clear boundaries, and even write them down.

  • Depending on the age of your child you may want them to check with you before playing new games or accepting a friend requestor. For children under the age of 10, we recommend their online activities be supervised by a parent or safe adult.

  • Many children/youths will not reach out to you for support if they are afraid their gaming devices will be taken away. Let them know they will not be in trouble if they ask for help.

  • Remind your child that online-friends are not necessarily who they say they are. When a child decides to chat privately or meet a gaming friend in person, they may consider them to be a friend, as they have been playing together for a while. Reaffirm the notion that anyone they do not know from real life is still considered a stranger. 

  • Advise your child they should not be switching platforms and/or add gaming friends to social media.  

  • Outline which types of information should not be shared. e.g.: age, location, personal information, pictures.  

  • Teach your child to never accept gifts online such as money, gift cards, cheat codes or admin codes from gaming friends.

  • Explain that they should never meet in person with someone they have met in a game without a parent or guardian present.

  • Create a safety plan with your child outlining what to do if someone asks them to send sexual images or sends sexual materials to them: stop engaging in conversation, tell you or other trusted adults (define who is a trusted adult), report, and block.

  • If you notice your child is engaging in risky behaviour online, have a conversation with them about why this behaviour is unsafe and work together to find a safer solution.  

other tips
Online games can be played through a console, downloaded as an app for mobile devices, or played on a computer. Here are some more tips to help monitor your child’s activity online and keep them safe:

  • Create or keep a log with your child’s login and password information. 

  • Before your child/youth starts making a profile or character make sure accounts are private and information is not being shared publicly.

  • Know your child’s screen names and the screen names of the friends they are playing and chatting with.

  • For consoles, setup parental controls and create passwords for the parental control features. You can control online access by using the block and/or restrict features available on most video game consoles. 

parent resources

Use the buttons below to download your own copy of a sample safety plan, our top 10 tip-sheet to game safe, or book our Safer Space workshop. 

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