Games are an integral part of our children’s lives, both online games and offline – board games, team games. With the increasing use of internet and consoles, playing games online has been a favourite hobby for many children. Playing online games with children offers many benefits. It allows kids to learn about technology in an interactive way, builds social skills, helps with maths skills, encourages creativity and imagination, and gives them the freedom to explore their own interests.
However, children need to be aware of the risks that come with playing games online. Here are five ways to play games online safely with children:
1) Be aware of what your child is playing and allow him or her to play only age-appropriate games.
If you are going to allow your child to play a games console, check the age recommendation on the box. Make sure you stick to it. A lot of 16+ games have fighting, swear words and worse. You do not want your child to see these types of things! Make sure you remove any ability for them to be able to chat on the video console. Sadly, you never know exactly who is playing these games.
2) Turn on parental controls and disable chat features on your browser
Make sure you get parental controls or proper parental software. This way, your child cannot accidentally click on anything. Some children, age dependent, will always feel a bit naughty and type in some naighty words. If you have parental software turned on, this won’t matter.
3) Play online games on safe websites without downloads
If your child wants to play online games, absolutely let him. There are some really great games out there that will provide educational value as well as keep your little one occupied. Solitaire.Org has hundreds of great games which are all played on their website. There is no downloads, no ads, and its all free. You don’t have to sign up to anything, either. This means that your child can play for however long you let them, with no worries.
We love playing Solitaire of course, or one of its many variations, but they also have some great child orientated games too. Try their hidden objects games, where you have to click on all the (obviously) hidden objects. This is great for even young ages, as it gives them some great motor skills and also you can discuss what the object is used for.
4) Check more closely on teenagers and their browsing history
If you check your teens browsing history and its clear, its likely they have been looking at something they don’t want you to see. You do have to give privacy, and its a good idea for you and your teen to have an open discussion on what you expect. A 13 year old’s internet usage, for example, should be monitored far more than a 16 year old’s. Teenagers can play online games too without downloading anything dodgy to their school laptops! This maths game is super hard but in a fun way, our teenager spent the whole weekend on it! This is much better than a fighting game on the PS5!
5) Be present
Don’t let your young kids sit in a room playing games unless you know 100% that they are safe. This means following the above rules, by limiting their internet or playing games only on websites you have agreed. Perhaps buy an old console at a car boot sale that doesn’t give them the option to chat online. But the most important thing, is to be present. Keep checking on them, keep talking to them. Play with them! Some of these games are great fun!
The good news is that there are many ways to play online games safely. You can play games with your child together or allow them to play independently. You just have to establish ground rules for what is appropriate and what isn’t, and then enforce those rules. For more great ideas for after they have played, check out our Five Ways to cook with chocolate to give them a little treat!