Tips and strategies for creating a safe gaming environment for children and young people.
Online gaming opens up a whole world of fun and social interaction. Use these tips and strategies to make sure that time spent playing online games is safe and fun for everyone.
As with other interests, it can help to involve yourself in what your child is doing. Try things like:
- talking about what they like playing and who they play with
- playing the game with them or watch them play in order to learn more about the game, and understand how they behave while playing
- discuss responsible gaming time and behaviours.
There are plenty of sites you can visit to learn more about popular online games, including how to control who is allowed to communicate or join games with your child. Consider:
- checking the age guidelines for the game on the game website or at the Australian Classification Board
- reading reviews on popular games and other forms of entertainment at the Australian Council on Children and the Media, Common Sense Media, or Ask About Games
- learning more about how each game allows players to 'block', 'mute' or 'report' other players at the Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s Games, apps and social networking website.
Set clear guidelines and expectations for gaming. For example:
- activating parental controls to restrict access to in-game or in-app purchases, if available
- establishing rules in advance about when, where and how long your child can play online games
- discussing your child's screen name and helping to choose an appropriate name that doesn't give away any personal information
- placing the computer or video game console in an open area of your home and requiring that any handheld games also be played in the same shared area
- using timers or other indicators to signal that gaming time is nearly over, and backing this up with clear consequences for not switching off
- making sure all devices have the latest virus protection installed and explaining to your child that they should never click on links or download files offered by strangers.
Knowing how your child spends their time playing games can help keep you informed if they ever encounter an issue online.
- Monitor the time your child spends online and be aware of any changes in your child’s activity, school or social behaviours.
- Talk to your child about their gaming, and encourage them to tell you if they ever witness something online that makes them feel uncomfortable or unhappy.
Finally, give your child the knowledge and tools that they need to keep themselves safe. Try things like:
- providing your child with strategies to deal with negative online experiences
- explaining that reporting bad behaviour online is not dobbing, but instead improves the gaming environment for all the other players
- showing your child how to ‘block’, ‘mute’ or 'report' other people who are behaving inappropriately online, using guides available at the Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s Games, apps and social networking website.
Curriculum and syllabus links
NSW Syllabus outcomes
Australian Curriculum content descriptions
- 'Australian Classification Board', Australian Classification Board, accessed 5 February 2019
- 'Australian Council on Children and the Media', Australian Council on Children and the Media, accessed 5 February 2019
- 'Common Sense Media', Common Sense Media, accessed 5 February 2019
- 'Ask About Games', Ask About Games, accessed 5 February 2019
- 'Games, apps and social networking', Office of the eSafety Commissioner, accessed 5 February 2019