03 March 2022 13:00
Keeping young people safe online - online gaming.
We all know that gaming is a huge part of life for many young people, with the digital world offering lots of opportunities, however there are risks! We have compiled some tips for keeping young people safe whilst online gaming.
Types of games:
- Simple short (often on phones and tablets, like Candy Crush
- Creative, solving puzzles, and creating worlds, like Minecraft
- Strategy and skill games such as chess
- Adventure games, which happen in different worlds and often involve conflict. Games such as Fortnite or Call of Duty.
- Bullying: for not playing specific games. Deliberately excluding people from some games or criticised for how they play games.
- Trolling and scams: trolls trick young people into giving up in game items by offering them money or hacking into their account.
- In game purchases: some cost money to download whereas for others you can pay for things in game. Often purchases are required to gain further achievements.
- Talking to strangers: some games are played in teams or against other people. It is extremely easy to play against people you have never met and communicate with them via message, video, or chat. This puts young people at risk of exploitation and abuse.
Tips for safety
- Check content: often games have age ratings based on the content of the game.
Settings: on some games, you can change the settings. Some games you can turn off things like the chat feature to prevent your child from engaging with strangers. Games also allow you to report players who are behaving inappropriately. You can also set limits on things like screen time and contact with strangers.
PEGI age ratings:
- Age ratings are guidance and can help parents make decisions about whether to buy a game or film for their child.
- PEGI ratings are based on the age suitability of game, not the difficulty of the game.
- PEGI 3: considered suitable for any age group. The game does not contain any content that could be frightening, and very mild violence is acceptable, but no bad language is acceptable.
- PEGI 7: games that have some content that could be frightening for young children. Very mild forms of violence are acceptable at this ae rating.
- PEGI 12: slightly more graphic forms of violence towards fantasy characters or non-realistic human-like characters. Sexual innuendo can be present, but any bad language must be mild.
- PEGI16: violence at this rating reaches a stage that looks the same as what would be expected in real life. Bad language can be more extreme, and the use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs is acceptable.
- PEGI 18: this is applied when the violence is considered gross violence, motiveless killing, or violence towards defenceless characters. There is glamorisation of use of illegal drugs and gambling and even sexual activity.
Deciding if a game is appropriate:
- Content: check the content by looking at the age rating and this can help you decide whether to buy or download the game.
- Contact: consider who your child will be in contact with when playing the game. Look into whether chat functions can be turned off.
- Behaviour: does your child’s behaviour change while playing the game or after playing the game? Very intense short games can cause anger, temper or ‘rage quitting’ which is when they stop playing because of getting angry or getting upset. Checking the suitability of the game can stop this, as can setting time limits on playing games.
- Purchasing: does the game have in app purchasing? These purchases normally make achievements easier or add to the value of the game. This can add pressure to be unique in games they play or to be better than other people. Consider turning off in app purchases or setting limits on spending.
- NSPCC website with tips for online safety:
- PEGI page on age ratings and content descriptors:
- Common sense media page on the best apps and games for certain ages: