How to make Video Gaming Safe for your children

I enjoy playing video games and have long thought that there were great benefits to playing them. Video games have been proven to help you mentally, to help you relax, to increase manual dexterity and reflexes, to connect you socially to other people and many other positives. But when it comes to our children, safety has to take precedence.

There is no doubt in my mind that unfiltered, the internet and the world of media and entertainment can be potentially very dangerous, especially where any online social component is available.

That’s why it’s absolutely critical that any parent understands the media – including video games – that their children are involved with. For parents who have no interest or history with video games, this can be a really daunting task.

These simple tips should help any parent with making video gaming safe for their children.

5 Tips to Make Video Gaming Safe for your Children

5 Tips which will help you make video games safe for the whole family to play.

Research the game thoroughly before allowing your children to access it.

Don’t just go out and buy the video game your child has been asking for, even if it sounds like an innocent game. Every game has plenty of information available on it online, from it’s age rating, to content, to reviews. It’s worth spending a good few hours reading about the content of the game and deciding if it’s suitable. Even if something doesn’t have an age rating, it may have some adult themes that you’re uncomfortable with or that you think will be bad for your son or daughter.

When researching make sure you also look at any online features of the game, and what safety options can be put in place.

Do not allow unmonitored social connections.

5 Tips which will help you make video games like fortnite safe for children.

A great deal of games these days have an online or social element where you can connect or communicate with other players. Even if they don’t, your son or daughter may choose to connect with people through a massive amount of communication platforms, whether the gaming platform itself, to third party apps such as Discord, to social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Explain what the dangers are of these social connections to your children, set rules and boundaries and then monitor them. In a game like Fortnite for example, your child will be matched with up to a hundred other random people, who could be anyone, anywhere – you obviously don’t want them chatting to complete strangers!

A good rule is that they can only add to their friends list and play games with people that they know personally, for example school friends or family. This allows them to play with some people online, but not strangers. Children shouldn’t be allowed to play with unknown adults on the internet, and sometimes a game will have voice chat on by default. You’ll hopefully have found this out during your research period, and you’ll want to go into the settings and disable it if so.

Explain why your kids shouldn’t be chatting to strangers online and ask them to tell you if anyone adds them to their friends list that they don’t know, or if they get any unsolicited emails or messages. Make sure they realize that you’ll never get mad at them and you just want to help.

You’ll also want to be aware of how to block and mute players on every platform and game that’s played. Keeping yourself educated is key to protecting your kids – but don’t worry too much, every game these days has social protection tools and is easy to use. If you find you’re struggling to figure out how to do something, I guarantee someone has made a tutorial for it on YouTube!

Set realistic limits and explain why they’re needed.

I personally hate blanket bans. Telling someone “You’re not allowed to play Grant Theft Auto” and then just refusing to speak about it is going to make them want to do it more. Explaining why – it’s a mature video game, it deals with sexual topics, there’s a lot of violence and it would give you nightmares and make you unhappy – gives them something to think about. Furthermore, let them know that it’s not forever. “You can’t play this game now, but when you turn 18, you can make your own decisions and decide whether to play it.” Respect their agency and the fact that they will one day grow up and make their own mind up about things. By being open to that you’ll make it a lot easier on yourself right now.

Setting other limits is important as well. These might include things like video games can only be played for one hour on a school night, and only after homework or chores have been done. This is a realistic compromise that also incentivizes getting homework out of the way!

Play Games in a Family Space

Have the gaming consoles or PC in a family space, for example, the living room. If kids are off in their bedroom with the door almost closed, you can’t see what they’re doing, hear what they’re doing or be involved in any way. Now once they’re into the teenage years you do have to give them an element of privacy, but certainly for younger children, gaming should be a family activity and happen in a family space. This will allow you to be part of the process and to keep an eye on things.

I’ll be honest, I think there are way too many kids with an Xbox or PlayStation in their bedroom – and I was one of them. It isolated me and kept me separate from my family on an activity that really, they could have joined in on.

Play it with them.

5 Tips which will help you make video games like fortnite safe for children.

If you’re not a gamer you’re probably shaking your head a little and thinking that’s a weird suggestion, but the fact is anyone can enjoy video games. They’re not made for kids, they’re made for anyone from five year olds up to ninety-five year olds. I’m thirty six years old and I love video games as much as when I was a child. There is something out there for everyone.

You can play with your children and you can enjoy it! Playing games with your kids will help your bonds grow strong, teach you about the game so you chat about it to them and understand them if they talk about any concerns, and hopefully give your reflexes a bit of a work out too. One of the safest ways of controlling any kind of media use is enjoying it as an entire family. You could even have a pizza and gaming night, I guarantee you’ll have fun too.

You might think this all sounds like a lot of work. First you have to do all that research, then figure out the social aspects and understand any safety protections, then you have to monitor them playing the game and probably have umpteen million fights over “just 5 more minutes please!” but it’s worth it.

Video games are part of modern life now. Children will be talking about them at school and playing them at their friends house. Teaching children to play video games responsibly and to enjoy playing them with family is the safest way to protect them, and the most fun for everyone involved.

To celebrate how awesome I think video games are, I’ve got an amazing XBOX ONE S 1TG Fortnite Prize Package to give away, as featured here.

Xbox One S 1TB Fortnite Console with Eon Cosmetic Set & 2000 V-Bucks

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292 thoughts on “How to make Video Gaming Safe for your children

  1. Kerrie-ann Fitzpatrick says:

    My 6YO is constantly asking for an XBOX for his birthday and it terrifies me, this will hopefully help settle my nerves. I used to love crash bandicoot as a kid, hopefully my son will too!!

  2. Sarah Evans says:

    I’m torn between Mario Kart and Crash Bandicoot
    I did visit the page it asked me to but won’t register on the gleam widget for some reason x

  3. Claire sen says:

    Another vote for Crash Bandicoot! I just love it, it’s so addictive! I am quite partial to a bit of Fallout aswell though!

  4. Jo says:

    Our favourite is Super Mario Bros, we have a couple of Mario games and it was the first video game we showed the boys. They loved it straightaway and it’s their favourite – but if they play 2 players they argue and bicker

  5. Caroline Tinsley says:

    I’ve been playing video games for nearly 40 years, so picking a favourite is tough! Recently I enjoyed Witcher 3 the most, I became so absorbed in the world!

  6. Fay says:

    For me it is the Silent Hill series, I’ve always loved horrors & I remember playing the original when I was about 18

  7. Carol Thomas says:

    I still love the Sonic games. My adult youngsters are gamers so I couldn’t begin to guess there faves. I do know I buy steam vouchers at Christmas for them too

  8. Jason Paterson says:

    My Favourite to play with my son is Skate 3 (we have to turn the sound down though as it’s a bit sweary!)

  9. Hazel Rea says:

    My favourite video game of all time is Alex Kidd in Miracle World. It was the first game I played with my son and we didn’t have a clue how to play it but we had a great time together learning.

  10. Samantha says:

    Finished Red Dead Redemption 2 recently, that was cool, though didn’t like it once it swapped character!

    Currently playing Pillars of Eternity and Stellaris – enjoying both.

  11. Debbie Jayne Davies says:

    I have always loved super mario i used to play it with my children 30 years ago and now i play it with my grandchildren.

  12. Jamie Edwards says:

    The legend of Zelda for me! Hubby and I are mainly PC gamers now and my eldest has just started getting interested πŸ™‚

  13. Abby may says:

    I love mario. My daughter is 7 and desperately wants a games console but I’ve been holding back as I have seen such negative things in the news. However your article has some great points and I will definitely consider saving for one now. Xx

  14. Duncan Campbell says:

    Plants vs Zombies – Tower Defence gaming at its finest, the standard bearer of the genre, truly unbeatable amongst its peers!

  15. Victoria Prince says:

    Any of the Pokemon games! I couldn’t pick one clear favourite – not least as most of them are very similar game play

  16. betsy ferguson says:

    fortnite is very popular with my grandkids at the moment – but, i still enjoy dr roboniks bean machine – to me, it is addictive x

  17. Carly Belsey says:

    It has always been Super Mario Bros – I used to play this as a child and still love it now on my son’s Nintendo DS lol. I also love Mario Kart

  18. Clare Davies says:

    Mario for n64 was my fav growing up.. my son loves a retro game so plays this with me still.. Mario odyssey was fab for the switch
    I used to love spyro and that has had a new reboot too!
    But my son has recently played red dead redemption and I got rather emotionally invested in that too!! Haha x

  19. Jodi hill says:

    My favourite video game of all time definitely has to be Alex Kidd in miracle world, so many memories of playing it with my little sister when we were younger, we recently downloaded it on my sons wii u & he loves it too…. never actually completed it though lol

  20. Danielle Graves says:

    I love Crash Bandicoot although the remastered version is harder than I remember the original ever being

  21. Richard Saunders says:

    plants vs zombies, the original one. I still love playing it from time time – best learning curve on a game i’ve played and a great sense of humour

  22. Sian Buckingham says:

    Oh, it’s too hard to choose just one! I loved Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon when I was little, so happy to see the remakes! Same with the Resident Evils! Fingers crossed for more amazing remakes coming our way!

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