The Digital Joneses Tips for Online Gaming Safety

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One of the biggest headaches and constant source of contention between my teen and I here at home is the time he spends playing video games.

It’s a tough one, because though we hear a lot about not letting you kids spend so much time playing, and forcing them to get out to do this or that, and of course, how their brains will turn to mush – Wait. They don’t say that? The truth is that the parents of the kids that my son hangs out with let their kids play video games till their eyes bleed, and this serves as an indirect form of pressure for me who is trying to provide my child with the endless list of reasons why having a life offline is as important, and as a fun, as being online.

Granted, he is active: he plays sports and does ok in school, and is charismatic and well-liked, but in my opinion he is gaming way too much and it drives me craaazy.

We have figured out ways to at least control the level of access that he has to things and people that are not appropriate to him, but also preventing those who shouldn’t be accessing him, doing so.

Part of our latest discussion with Trend Micro as part of the Digital Joneses campaign was about learning and then sharing those tips to keep your kids safe while they are gaming – even if them gaming is a pain in the neck for you.

A few tips that stood out the most for me, and that we currently implement in our household with our teen, come directly from Trend Micro’s list of tips:

Stay Involved – Keeping your gaming console in a common area of your home is a great way for the whole family to enjoy it. also, it gives parents an idea of how much time their kids are spending using it and what types of games they are playing without having to be invasive. multi-player games are a fun way to spend time with your kids. Who knows, the game may even be a good way to segue into learning more about your child’s interests.

Use Parental Controls – your gaming console has parental controls so that you can block kids from accessing games that aren’t age-appropriate. you can also set limits on how much time they spend gaming and who they play with. most gaming devices will also let you pre-approve friend requests to play online and disable Internet access. Be sure to do your homework on the product so you can make use of these controls. they may be your best bet for keeping kids safe while gaming.

Private Vs. Public Information – talk to your kid(s) about what’s appropriate information to be publicly shared. your child should not be sharing information like your home address or the name of their school. Similarly, their screen name should not reveal their age, gender, or location. also, be sure they know not to share information about their friends or family when they are online.

Set Budgets – Create one budget for online spending and second for screen time. it’s very easy to download gaming apps from the app Store or Google play, so check your iTunes account or mobile phone bill often to make sure your child isn’t spending too much.

Some online gaming stores require accounts outside of Google play and iTunes. these keep credit card information on file so be sure to create and safeguard the password required to make purchases. if parents allow their children access to this password, they should still convey it’s use within the set online spending budget.

Embrace Technology – the same antivirus and antispyware software that keeps you safe elsewhere on the web can make sure your gaming experience is a safe one, too. However, no protection is 100% but an attentive parent or guardian can pretty much fill any security holes in the online gaming community. the best way to approach this is to think of online gaming in the same light as Facebook and other social media outlets. the same advice parents would give their children about social media threats such as cyberbullying, password phishing, and viruses carries over to online gaming.

You can read Trend Micros complete list of online gaming safety tips here. Another great resource is the Video Game Safety Guidelines for Parents from Child Development Institute Parenting Today.

Another great resource, and believe me, you will find this helpful, is Trend Micro’s new ebook on gaming safety called Level Up and Secure Your Online Gaming Experience.

I am not sure that I will ever be ok with the whole gaming obsession. I set my hopes on the memory of my younger brother who would have these same arguments with my mother and would be equally obsessed with video games, and then he just put grew them and successfully got into law school and graduated. Maybe there is hope for me son after all.

Disclosure: As part of my agreement to participate in the Digital Joneses Project, Trend Micro has provided me with technology and software items for use in the various challenges and/or for review. No request that I express any particular point of view or specific editorial requirements to be included in my reviews were made. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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