5 Online Gaming Risks for Kids You Should Bear in Mind

As the world of technology continues to evolve, more and more children are discovering online gaming. It can be a great way for kids to bond with friends they may not see in person, as well as keep them entertained during their free time. 

Although online gaming has its advantages, it’s important for parents to know what risks come along with this form of entertainment. From dealing with cyberbullying to potential addiction issues, it's critical to understand and monitor your kids' online gaming activities, so you can keep them safe as they navigate this digital world. 

In this blog post, we'll discuss some key online gaming risks – everything from access restrictions to mental health implications. Additionally, we’ll talk about how we can protect our children while still letting them have an enjoyable experience in their favorite virtual worlds!

Online games for children: When should they start playing?

When it comes to online gaming, children should only be allowed to play these types of games when they are given the proper guidelines and parental supervision. It’s essential they understand the potential harms of online gaming such as cyberbullying, hackers, or inappropriate material in some games before allowing a child to play them.

Taking that into account, there are many video games for kids that adapt to their age and needs. So, kids can start playing them whenever you see them mature enough to have fun with responsibility. In this sense, it's recommended that children should be 12 years or over to ensure they have the maturity needed to fully understand the rules and boundaries in place while also using critical thinking when engaging with others online. However, the age depends on your criteria and the game they’re playing, since there are some that can be played by 6-years-old or younger. 

How much time should kids spend playing online games?

Setting limits around the amount of time children spend playing online games is important. It allows them to engage with the virtual world in a way that is not too distracting from any other activities they need to be doing, such as schoolwork or hobbies, yet still allows for fun and enjoyment. The best way to determine how much time kids should be spending playing online games depends on their age and maturity level.

As a general rule, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids spend between 30 and 60 minutes playing video games during school days and up to 2 hours during non-school days. This can vary, as we said before, depending on the kid's age, however, it’s really important to limit the time they spend playing to avoid mental health consequences. 

what are the risks of online gaming

What are the risks of online gaming? 

1. Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is one of the most serious online gaming risks and can occur in various ways. It can involve insults, threatening language, or other forms of harassment that cause mental distress to the child playing the game. When a child is being bullied via an online platform, they often feel like there's no escape route possible since the bullies don't have physical presence, and it could potentially go on forever.

It has been reported that 1 in 2 online gamers suffer or have suffered from cyberbullying while playing on different platforms. 

2. Predators

Children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers posed by cyber predators when playing online games. This is mainly due to their limited capacity for understanding the concept of anonymity and their inexperience when it comes to interacting with strangers in a digital setting. Predators can take advantage of this and create fake accounts or hide their identity altogether, making it harder for kids to recognize the signs of a predator. 

Additionally, because online games typically require players to interact with each other, they may form relationships in-game that they're not aware could put them at risk. For example, a predatory player may ask personal information from a younger player or engage them in inappropriate conversations. 

3. Hiding fees

Many online games nowadays come with hidden fees associated with them, making it difficult for children to be aware of these potential costs. There are a number of reasons for this. 

Firstly, game developers often impose different rules and structures based on the child's level of play. This can mean that an unsuspecting child may stumble upon a high-cost feature without being made aware of the cost beforehand. Secondly, the in-game purchases can be packaged in such a way that is attractive to young players, making it easy for them to make impulsive choices without fully understanding how much it may cost. Finally, the fast-paced and immersive nature of many online games makes it difficult for young players to pause and assess whether making a purchase is beneficial or not.

All in all, the trouble is that these fees are usually hidden in the terms of service and often go unnoticed by children who are excited about playing the game.

online games for children

4. Addiction

Playing online games can be a great form of entertainment for both adults and children. However, there is a real potential danger of addiction when it comes to playing these types of games. For kids especially, they may become too focused on spending time playing games, forgetting that they have other obligations in life. In fact, 8.5% of kids playing online games suffer from addiction!

A number of factors can lead to an unhealthy relationship with online gaming: easily accessible technology, stimulating graphics and sounds, rewards and recognition from peers, and the ability to connect with others quickly through media sources like chat rooms. All of these can be powerful incentives for kids to keep playing, eventually leading to an addiction if not regulated properly. 

In this sense, studies have highlighted that a dangerous tipping point may arise in terms of game engagement. This can lead to issues such as increased stress levels, physical health concerns such as excessive weight gain and mental health issues such as addiction or social isolation.

5. Malware

Kids these days spend a lot of time playing them, but what they may not realize is that they are also potentially exposing themselves to malicious software such as malware. This is because when a person downloads a game, or even just clicks on an advertisement within the game, they could trigger the download of a file that contains malicious code. This code can then infect their computer and in some cases leave them open to security threats such as identity theft. 

video games for kids

Video games for kids: How to keep them safe?

As more and more children spend time playing online games, it is important for parents to ensure that their children are safe while doing so. Here are five tips to help keep your kids safe while playing online:

  1. Monitor your kids' activities: Parents should monitor the websites their children visit and the games they play when they are online. By regularly checking what sites they’re using, parents can make sure their kids are not engaging in inappropriate activities or conversations.

  1. Set boundaries: Establish rules and guidelines for when and how long your child should be allowed to use the internet. Make sure these rules are clear and consistent so children know what behavior is expected of them while online.

  1. Talk about internet safety: It’s important to have a conversation with your child about the dangers of being online, such as cyberbullying, identity theft, phishing scams, etc. Explain why they need to be aware of these risks in order to stay safe.

  1. Use parental controls: If available on the device your child uses, switch on parental controls, which will block any content deemed unsuitable for children or restrict access to certain websites/apps for a designated period of time each day.

  1. Avoid giving out personal information: Teach your child not to give out any personal information such as address, telephone numbers, passwords etc., unless it's necessary (i.e if purchasing items online).

By following these tips regularly and keeping an eye on what their kids do when they're online, parents can help ensure their kids' safety in the face of online gaming risks

Want to keep learning more about how to keep your kiddo safe while navigating online? You’ve come to the right place! In Boo’s Battalion blog section, you’ll find all the information you need to let your kid enjoy the online world with responsibility. Plus, we also have an amazing squad of kids that meet every week to make online friends without the risks online gaming poses to them! Want to join? Take the first step here!

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