Staying safe while playing games online.
of young people say online gaming can teach important skills like concentration and teamwork
Online gaming is hugely popular with children and young people. Annual research conducted by OFCOM shows that gaming is still one of the top activities enjoyed online by 5–16 year olds, with many of them gaming on mobile phones, games consoles, tablets or computers.
Best practices for parents and carers
Consider games’ age ratings
Games, just like films, have age ratings which are regulated by PEGI. These show the age that young people need to be in order to legally buy a game in the UK. PEGI have also created a set of content descriptors which show what content will be seen in the game and give an indication to why it received its rating.
Check who your child is chatting with
Many games have a chat feature which allows gamers to communicate with other players. On some games this is an open chat box where comments can be typed, whilst others may only allow a gamer to select from set phrases. Chat within games can happen publicly, so that other players can see it and interact, or privately in the form of a personal message. Many games also allow you to chat verbally via a wearable headset.
Discuss how to report or block unkind messages
Online bullying can happen in games as well as on social media or messaging apps. It could be through unkind comments or messages, or by targeting other players within in a game. Most games have reporting and blocking features which can be used to support a young person who is being bullied online.
Best practices for schools
One of the best things that educators can do is to engage with the gaming environment and begin to understand what makes it so attractive to young people as well as the types of activities that they enjoy.
Talk with children about the types of games they are playing. Are they role-playing games, sports games, strategy games or first-person shooters? If you’re not sure, have a go yourself to find out more.
Discuss the age and content ratings on games. These ratings should be treated the same way that we treat film classifications. It is important that pupils and their parents are aware of the ratings and their meaning.
Useful links from the UK Safer Internet Centre and other organisations about gaming
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