Written By Lacey Conner of familywellnesspro.
Billions of people around the world play video games, and 22% of Australian gamers are under the age of 18. For parents of these children, it’s important to recognize that not only can the content of a given game have a negative impact on a child’s mental and emotional health, but online gaming can present a slew of other dangers.
If your child is into video games, here are some practical steps to take, shared by Mindful Mumma Designs, that can help you ensure they stay safe.
Have a Conversation
Nowadays, it is common for video games to offer players the ability to socialize and communicate with other gamers. While video games can certainly yield benefits for kids such as improved decision-making, spacial awareness, and problem-solving skills, parents deal with valid concerns for their children’s safety. As a parent, it is important to be aware of the risks that come with engaging in conversations with strangers online. Whether your child's game of choice has text or voice chat capabilities, monitoring their activity and making sure they understand the dangers of talking to strangers is key in order to ensure their safety.
It's easy to forget that 70% of online gamers are adults and although you may think your child is communicating with someone their own age, there is no guarantee that this is always the case. Keep these points in mind and take necessary action so your child can talk freely while still feeling safe and protected.
Evaluate Each Game
Every video game has an Australian Classification content rating. While these ratings are typically a reliable indicator for which games are appropriate for certain age groups, don’t use them to make your final decision on whether or not your child should play a particular game.
The safest way to make sure the content of a game is appropriate for your child is to play it yourself before they get their hands on it! That way, you will have an idea of what your child will be exposed to.
Use Parental Controls
Parental controls are an invaluable tool to ensure your child's safety when it comes to online gaming. Each gaming console, handheld device, computer, tablet, and smartphone typically offers these features. Utilizing them can help you manage which games your child is able to access, who they are allowed to play with, how much money is available for in-game purchases and more.
With the power of parental controls at your fingertips, you can add a layer of security and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're doing all that you can to keep your child safe while they play their favorite games.
Block and Report
While online gaming has many benefits and is a great source of entertainment for children, it also comes with the risk of unwelcome contact from strangers. To ensure that your child's safety is not compromised in any way, be sure that you and your child are aware of the steps to take when dealing with inappropriate activity.
You should also know how to block problem gamers from joining their game sessions. If you notice any issues arising during online gaming, you have the option to disable voice chat or prevent your child from using a headset. As a parent, it is important to be vigilant about monitoring online gaming activity and paying attention to any potential problems so that your child can remain safe and secure while having fun playing their games.
For your young gamer to experience the full potential of their playing time, it is important that they have the right accessories. A comfortable and dependable controller is essential in order to play any video game properly. If your child plays on a computer, then make sure they have a good quality keyboard so they don't miss out on any of the finer details of their gaming session.
Investing in a pair of high-quality headphones is also an excellent idea as it can provide both immersive audio playback and ensure your child's ears are protected from any loud noises generated by the game. With these simple pieces of equipment, your child can reap all the benefits that come with gaming in a safe and responsible way.
Create a Schedule and Take Tech Breaks
Finally, children and adults alike need to take breaks from technology every now and then. Playing video games excessively can harm your child’s health and well-being, so be sure to set limits for how much your child can play each day. Use an online schedule maker to create a schedule for your kids to follow; you can plan your time effectively with a schedule maker so you know how much they’ve played and when they need to take their next break.
While establishing a video game schedule is essential to ensuring healthy gaming habits, there may be times when your child doesn't abide by the designated time limits that you've set for them. If this occurs, it is important to remain firm and consistent in your approach when teaching them about discipline and self-regulation.
Try explaining why it's important for them to stay within their given limits and make sure they understand that the rules are in place for their own benefit. You can also offer alternative activities to occupy their free time, such as going outside or engaging in creative hobbies like reading or painting. If necessary, consider implementing additional consequences or rewards if they exceed or adhere to the boundaries set forth in order to emphasize the importance of following these regulations.
You may not want to deprive your child of the benefits of video games, but making sure that they stay safe is non-negotiable. Consider the six tips above to keep your child’s gameplay healthy and secure, and keep looking for other ways to help your child get the most out of their video game experience without putting themselves at risk. Before long, you will have an effective protocol in place and be able to rest easy at night.
For useful items and information for cultivating a positive mindset every day, visit Mindful Mumma Designs today!