Around 97% of Australian homes with children have computer games, according to the latest Digital Australia Report.
Online gaming is behind much of this growth, opening up safety concerns including cyberbullying, privacy issues, and access to non-age appropriate content.
Here are five ways you can help your child engage with gaming safely:
Video games have come a long way since Space Invaders hit arcades in 1978. Be aware of the content of your child’s chosen video games. You can access information about game classifications and age guidelines for specific games either on the product box or via the Australian Classification Board
Children need an understanding of what it means to be a responsible online citizen, which is a key part of our ‘bCyberwise’ module. There are also steps parents can take at home. Start by talking to your children about online safety and the risks of excessive gaming. You can also pick up the controller and play along to gain an understanding of how they are interacting online.
While parental control measures (time limits, content restrictions and personal data sharing rules) are great, it is also helpful to negotiate strategies with your child to help them manage their gaming. Agree on times they will (and won’t) play and the consequences they will face if they break your agreement.
As well as paying attention to your child’s direct gaming activity, be aware of any mood and behavioural changes that may have been triggered by their gaming. Keeping communication lines open encourages them to tell you if they are being cyberbullied, : so you can take steps to help them block people who make them feel uncomfortable.
Make sure your child is aware of their responsibilities and equip them with the strategies they need to deal with negative experiences. For older children 14+, the Young & eSafe is a great starting point. For younger children, enquire about Life Education visiting their school.