Playing Together and Staying Safe
Online Gaming has brought about a whole new set of social experiences for people of all ages, including creating friendships, memories, and lasting bonds with those your kids are playing with. Most online interactions are positive! However, it’s important as parents to understand what to look for, and how to talk to kids about staying safe online.
Parents have a wide variety of capabilities when it comes to establishing Parental Settings. This can be as simple as setting passcodes to access a device, to preferences that indicate a child can only voice chat - like on the Xbox Network - with people already on their friends list. Understanding what tools are available to you is dependent upon platform, but Mojang Studios strongly encourages parents to become involved and take those steps to ensure their child has a safe online experience.
Knowing What to Say
Having conversations with kids, tweens, and teens about their social interactions can be difficult, but remember those talks you had about not riding in cars with strangers? This is the same thing, digitally.
Topics to cover:
§ Don’t give out personal information online - this means age, name, and location indicators like city, and school.
§ Never communicate outside the game (including things like text messages, photos, video chat, etc) with strangers.
§ Help them understand that not every online interaction is with a friend - this is especially hard for younger children, who establish friendship bonds quickly.
§ Let them know they can come to you if someone is making them uneasy. Listening when a child comes to you about bullying or inappropriate behavior will make them more likely to rely on you in the future.
§ Monitoring their chats for red flags. Red flags can include things like questions about their location, requests for photos or to chat out of game (on different services like Discord, Snapchat, Twitter, etc), confessions of like or love. Trust your gut and help them learn how to look out for these things themselves.
§ If someone is chatting with your child and it makes you uncomfortable, block the user and reassure your child they did nothing wrong.
With open communication and use of available tools, parents can allow their children to enjoy online gaming and feel secure. It can be a daunting task to go through the process of establishing Parental Settings, or having those tough conversations - but just like with creepers, we need to keep online dangers at bay.
- Chelsea Roberts