So your tween or teen says online games are cool, huh? We agree! Technology has afforded game developers the tools they need to create incredible gaming platforms with amazing graphics and complex, albeit somewhat addictive, plot lines. Unfortunately, as with anything else on the Web, online gaming is not without its risks. Check out these four surprising facts about online gaming before establishing the rules of engagement for your child.
It's Become a Social Activity
Online gaming has made the idea of a one-player game almost obsolete. Social gaming capabilities allow your child to either play or chat with others who happen to be on the platform at the time. More often than not, these are people your child doesn't know.
It's Not Just Child's Play
Online gaming has become a popular pastime, not just for kids, but for grown-ups alike. Unfortunately, not all of these adults are looking for harmless entertainment. Though they may be the exception to the rule, some "gamers" are actually predators who use these gaming venues as a way to find and groom unsuspecting children. That's why it's vital to talk to your child about the dangers of online gaming including what information is ok to share and what's not.
Plus, not all online games are intended for children. It's important to keep an eye on which game titles your child chooses. You can use the ratings available at the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to determine which games are appropriate for your child and which should be avoided.
It Can Cost You
Online games accessible via "free apps" can be deceiving. Oftentimes, these apps can be downloaded free of charge but then encourage kids to make in-app purchases with real money. If the device your child is playing on is connected to your credit card, then your wallet could take a substantial hit. Although lawsuits over these in-app purchases are forcing developers to begin taking more responsibility, the financial risks of online gaming remain. Thus, it's important to set up parental controls on any devices associated with your credit card.
It Can Be Educational
Despite the inherent risks of online gaming, there are plenty of advantages as well. Many educational games are available for kids of all ages, and gaming can encourage creativity and critical thinking too. As long as you are selective about the types of games you allow your child to play and monitor his activity on gaming platforms, then your kid will be able to enjoy the benefits of online games without endangering himself or your bank account!
Is your child a gamer? How do you make sure he's playing it safe?