Online gaming is a huge part of many children’s lives.
It’s a great way for them to be entertained, creative and connect with friends, especially as we’re coming into the winter months and spend more time indoors.
An NSPCC-commissioned YouGov survey found 67% of UK parents surveyed with children aged eight to 13 years old said their children were spending their time during lockdown playing on games like Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox.
Unfortunately, the online world isn’t without its risks and can be an unsafe place for young people without parental support.
But with so many different online gaming platforms and games available, it can be difficult to keep track of exactly what your child is doing online.
Minecraft is one of the most popular games available and has an age rating of seven plus. The players are immersed in a virtual reality where they can create and build new worlds and connect with people all around the globe.
Players who state they are over 13 when they sign up can also send and receive private messages.
Another hugely popular part of online gaming is watching other players play, and joining chat forums to comment on their gameplay.
This can be done through live-streams, or can be played back on apps such as Discord. This feature can mean that children are contacted by people they do not know.
It can be really beneficial to sit down with your child and explore the apps together before agreeing whether they can play them.
Many online games and apps offer parental safety features. Our Net Aware site, in partnership with O2, has information on almost 70 of the most popular online games and how to keep your child safe while using them.
It’s important to check the age rating of a game before you let your child play it, which can usually be found on the official site or on the app store it was downloaded from.
Most games should have an age rating which gives the recommended minimum age a player should be.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the rating may not consider features such as online chat, so it’s important to check the game out for yourself before letting your child play it.
It’s also a good idea to speak to your child about who they are connecting with and chatting to while playing online games.
You should remind them to be conscious of sharing personal information, and you may wish to restrict them to only playing online games with their friends they know in the real world, such as from school or clubs they go to.
For more information on the latest social media sites, apps and games, visit www.net-aware.org.uk/