Gaming… what does it mean when your kids are online and playing? Are they on a site by themselves or are they connected with friends they know in real life or perhaps someone they don’t know at all?
Have you ever checked out the games your children are playing online? Do you consider online gaming a form of social media? What username, passwords or images have your children signed up with? Have you ever sat with your children and watched how they play or who they are connected to online? Do you know their logins and passwords?
Every year, in fact almost daily, the world of gaming gets more intense, more complicated and opens up more opportunities for our children to connect to others they have never met in real life. Even if they are just home playing the Wii, did you know that they could connect to others right from your living room? Are you aware that some online games allow them to play with others, enter private chatrooms and start to build online friendships? They build trust with individuals they have never met and they may not be in your community or even a child themselves. We can actually be our child’s worst enemy and put them into a vulnerable situation by encouraging and giving them permission to go online and play their games every day once they have completed their homework. Predators start to see the pattern and build the trust with our unknowing children thinking they are their ‘online game’ friends. They start to give them tips and information you may not want shared. Unfortunately, predators know this. They know the questions to ask and know how to build the trust with our children to get what they want.
As a parent, what can you do to help protect and keep your child safe online?
- Talk to your child. Know what games they are playing, their passwords/user names and what their profile image is.
- Have passwords that are not easily guessed and do not give away any personal information.
- Set limits. Have times and guidelines that are agree upon by both you and your child.
- Have them show you how to play the games and what they are doing. Start a conversation with them about the world of gaming.
- Discuss safety issues that are age appropriate with your child.
- Set up filters, privacy settings and Internet filters for your child. Be aware of the ratings of the games your child is playing.
- Let your child know that they can ALWAYS come to you if they see anything or hear anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Keep your computer in an open space in your home and discourage your child from playing alone in their room.
- Don’t let your child download any games or programs without your permission.
Communicate with your child, ask questions and let them show you what games they are playing. The world of digital media is new to many of us and is overwhelming and time consuming. As parents, it is something we need to keep current with. We talk to our children about ‘stranger danger’ and now it’s time to incorporate that into conversations about online stranger danger.
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About Socially Safe
Stacy Maynard & Kerry Hills are moms with successful social media businesses. We have a passion for helping children understand how to use social media safely. We have joined together to implement into classrooms and the community our Socially Safe, Socially Fun, Social Media programs. We are Moms of kids between the ages of 8 to 15, so we understand the need to help our kids stay safe and create a positive digital footprint. Social Media is not going away and we are passionate about teaching our kids how to use it, have fun and stay Socially Safe.