Online gaming is a popular and fun activity for many young people. It can offer a variety of benefits, such as improving cognitive skills, enhancing creativity, and providing social interaction. However, online gaming also comes with some potential risks, such as cyberbullying, addiction, exposure to inappropriate content, and contact with strangers. Therefore, it is important for young gamers to play online games responsibly and safely, and for parents and guardians to support them in doing so. Here are some tips for enjoying online games without compromising your safety and well-being.
Choose games that are suitable for your age and interests.
Not all online games are appropriate for everyone. Some games may contain violence, sexual themes, gambling, or other elements that are not suitable for young or sensitive players. To help you choose games that are suitable for your age and interests, you can check the age ratings and content descriptions of the games before you download or play them. You can also read reviews and watch gameplay videos to get a better idea of what the games are like. Some websites that can help you find age-appropriate and fun games are:
- PEGI: This is the official website of the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system, which rates games based on their content and suitability for different age groups. You can search for games by title, platform, genre, or rating, and see detailed information about the content and themes of the games.
- Common Sense Media: This is a website that provides reviews and ratings of games, movies, TV shows, books, and apps for parents and kids. You can search for games by age, genre, platform, or topic, and see expert and user opinions, as well as tips and advice on how to use the games safely and responsibly.
- Internet Matters: This is a website that offers advice and resources on online safety for parents, carers, and children. You can find gaming guides for different age groups, as well as tips and tools on how to set up parental controls, manage screen time, and deal with online issues.
Set limits on how much and when you play online games.
Online gaming can be very enjoyable and engaging, but it can also be addictive and interfere with your other activities and responsibilities. To prevent online gaming from taking over your life, you need to set limits on how much and when you play online games. Some tips for setting healthy gaming habits are:
- Plan your gaming time in advance and stick to it. For example, you can decide to play online games for one hour after finishing your homework, or on weekends only.
- Use timers or alarms to remind you when to stop playing. You can also use apps or tools that block or limit your access to online games after a certain amount of time or at certain times of the day.
- Balance your gaming time with other activities, such as physical exercise, hobbies, socializing, and sleeping. Make sure you have a variety of interests and experiences that enrich your life and well-being.
- Seek help if you feel that you are losing control over your gaming behavior or if it is affecting your mood, health, or relationships. You can talk to your parents, guardians, teachers, or friends, or contact a professional service or helpline, such as [Childline] or [YoungMinds].
Be careful about who you interact with online and what you share with them.
Online gaming can be a great way to meet new people and make friends who share your passion and interests. However, not everyone online is who they claim to be, and some people may have malicious intentions or try to take advantage of you. Therefore, you need to be careful about who you interact with online and what you share with them. Some tips for staying safe online are:
- Use a nickname or a username that does not reveal your real name, age, location, or other personal information. You can also use an avatar or a picture that does not show your face or identity.
- Only communicate with people you know and trust in real life, or with people who are verified or moderated by the game or the platform. Avoid accepting friend requests, messages, or invitations from strangers or people who make you feel uncomfortable or pressured.
- Never share your personal information, such as your full name, address, phone number, email, passwords, or bank details, with anyone online. Also, never send or receive money, gifts, or items from anyone online, as they may be part of a scam or a fraud.
- Be respectful and polite to other players, and report or block anyone who is rude, abusive, or inappropriate. You can also mute or turn off the chat or voice functions if you do not want to communicate with other players.
- Tell your parents, guardians, or a trusted adult if you encounter any problems or issues online, such as bullying, harassment, or grooming. You can also report any suspicious or illegal activities to the game or the platform, or to the relevant authorities, such as [CEOP] or [Cybercrime].
Online gaming can be a fun and rewarding activity for young people, as long as they play online games responsibly and safely. By following these tips, you can enjoy online games without compromising your safety and well-being. Happy gaming!