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Jun 22, 2022
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What Are the Risks of Online Gaming?

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Today each parent tries to keep the finger on the pulse of children’s activity. The risks of online gaming become more and more obvious. So, let’s dive into this topic.

Online Gaming Dangers

In moderation, gaming can be fun for you or your child to unwind. However, with online video games, there are risks you must be mindful of if you’re a parent. This sentiment applies further if your child is playing a game designed to be addictive or predatory towards the player.

This post will go into detail about the risks online gaming can pose.

Gaming Addiction

The first one is obvious: games can be addictive. While any hobby can be addictive, online gaming carries an even greater risk for your child. There’s always a new task in the game to do, and due to their online nature, most games cannot be paused by their players, meaning your child can’t quit immediately without losing progress. Depending on where your child is at the game, you might have to pry your child away from the phone or computer.

Many games use the latest psychological tricks to be addictive, from giving players a dopamine rush when they end up accomplishing a task to making it difficult for them to quit at the moment. 

In extreme cases, the addiction can cause your child to become aggressive if they have to get off, leading them to put aside their tasks to game more.

Remember, you are in control. Only let your child game after they’ve done their tasks and have a time limit. Then, give a warning once their time is almost up, and when it is over, get them off. This way, you can minimize the risks of online gaming addiction.

Online Predators

With online gaming, children can meet people from around the world and form some friendships that can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, one of the most significant online gaming risks is predators who pose as children. The FBI has warned that over 500,000 predators are hunting for children online daily, with games being a target.

Safe kids games tend to have a limited chat, but that’s not the case for every game. So, you should continuously monitor your kids and ensure the person they’re talking to is their age.

Health Impacts

While there are health benefits to gaming in moderation, such as relieving stress and problem solving, too much gaming can lead to health issues. For example, a child who plays all night might have mental and physical consequences due to a lack of sleep. They may suffer from depression, and anxiety, increase their obesity risk, and deal with other consequences.

While these are extreme cases, there have been people who end up hospitalized or even die due to them experiencing undernourishment due to gaming too much.

To avoid this, always be sure that your child plays in moderation. Your family can avoid many online gaming risks through a time limit. As we said, anything can be addictive, but some games are designed to be even more addictive than average.

In-Game Purchases

Many gaming sites have DLC, microtransactions, or loot boxes for games. These purchases can enhance a player’s experience but come at a price. For microtransactions, the price is small, but they add up. It’s not unheard of for a child to spend thousands of dollars because they have access to a parent’s card.

Always keep your payment information locked up, and be sure you approve all purchases. Also, look at the type of game they’re playing. Many free-to-play games will be predatory about in-game purchases, not letting the player progress much unless they pay money. Sometimes, paying cash for a game up front is worth it to avoid microtransactions.

Exposure to Inappropriate Content

Online games for kids only tend to lack this. However, many online games may have objectionable content, such as excessive violence or sexual content. Therefore, checking the game’s rating before purchasing it for your child is vital. However, the online interactions are not rated even if the game is rated E. In addition, many games have parental controls to avoid exposing your child to an angry gamer on the opposite end, so look at the gaming security features before purchasing.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to avoid all inappropriate content when your child is on the internet. However, by being mindful and implementing several parental controls, you can reduce your child’s risk of running into this content.

Cyberbullying

One of the many risks of online gaming is banter becoming bullying. Some players can be outright abusive to others and might even follow the user outside the game. Continuously monitor a child’s session to ensure that no one is bullying them and encourage blocking any users who do.

Cyberbullying can be dangerous if left unmonitored. While many parents might believe that it doesn’t have as much of an impact as IRL bullying, it can still have a mental effect on your child, leading to depression or self-harm. So if you notice your child is being bullied, be sure to nip it in the bud ASAP.

Difficulty in Distinguishing Reality from Fantasy

Most older children of sound mind can separate fiction from reality. However, if the child is young, they may be unable to separate the game from the real world, especially if it’s immersive. If the child appears to be having issues, continually educate them. Most people who play games will know the difference between the real and fictional world, with that said.

Viruses

Most games sold at stores will not have this risk. However, some so-called free games on suspicious websites can be viruses. So, when your child is gaming, ensure they are going to the correct sites. Also, be sure that your computer has the latest virus protection installed. This way, your computer will be in better hands.

Phishing Scams

Some users are out to phish your child. For example, some may claim they have excessive in-game currency and only need some information. However, this is a ploy to steal the information from your child.

Constantly monitor your child’s activity. For example, if your child comes up to you needing your card, ask what it’s about. If it sounds like a scam, look into it, and educate your child.

Privacy

Some games can pose a privacy risk, requiring or displaying information you might not want your child revealing, such as a phone number or their name. Always be sure your child only shows the information you’re comfortable with. Look into a game’s privacy settings to ensure your child isn’t showing anything you don’t want them to.

Tips for Keeping Children Safe While Online

The risks of online gaming can be minimized by following these tips:

  • First, always have a set time when your child can game. Never let them game too much, especially if they haven’t completed their tasks yet.
  • If a game has a parental control app, set the controls accordingly.
  • Keep your payment information with you, and never give it to a child.
  • Always vet anybody your child talks to in the game to ensure they’re a real person and not somebody pretending to be someone else. 
  • Purchase games that are appropriate for your child’s age.
  • Consider using a phone or computer tracking app to see what your child is doing.

Stay Alert with uMobix

One way to keep your children safe while online is to use a tracking app, which can monitor their activities, limit certain apps, and track any conversation in or outside the game. In addition, you can set up times so your child does not play excessively.

Apps like uMobix can keep your child gaming safe while keeping you alert to any dangers that people may pose to your child.

Final Words

Online gaming can be fun for your child, but it poses risks. This sentiment is not to say that your child can’t game, but it’s vital for you as a parent to know the dangers of online gaming and keep that in mind whenever they’re gaming. Most kids will have a pleasant gaming experience, and so will you, but you are now prepared if something goes wrong.

FAQ

How to ensure my children’s safety from online gaming dangers?

Using a phone tracking app, you can control who your child talks to and limit their time spent on the game. In addition, you should always be sure you’re purchasing a game appropriate for your child.

Do games affect my child’s behavior?

If your child is playing an age-appropriate video game in moderation, then no. However, if they become addicted, it might change how they behave. They may be stubborn to get off the game, and if they become sleep-deprived, it can also affect their behavior. If you notice any changes, you might want to have an intervention.

How to decide if a game is appropriate for my child?

Most games will have a rating, indicating if the game is for everyone, for older kids, teens, or a mature audience. In addition, these ratings tend to include a description of the content found in the game. You can also look up more information about the game online. Educate yourself, and then you can decide if the game is appropriate for your child. Therefore, the risks of online gaming can be prevented. 

What are the effects of online gaming addiction?

Online gaming addiction can come with several side effects. One example is the child being unable to get off the game without becoming aggressive. And another type of risks of online gaming is when the child becomes sleep deprived, increasing their risk for anxiety, depression, and obesity.

Always game in moderation. If you feel like your child is gaming too much, feel free to put in a curfew. 

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