Whether online or through a gaming console, there are thousands of games for teens to play. Games are not only fun, but can help youth develop problem-solving skills, learn how to commit to long-term goals, understand how to work in a team, and bond with family and friends. When gaming is balanced with time away from the screen, gaming can be a good pastime for teens.
While there are good aspects to gaming, there are also some negative aspects that parents should watch out for. Many games have violent and sexual content. Some games allow you to play and chat with other players they find online. There is also cyberbullying and harassment that comes with online gaming. Fortunately, gaming consoles come with parental controls, plus we have some gaming safety tips to share in this blog post.
1) Don’t worry if you’re not a gaming expert—finding out if a game is okay for your teen to play is easy to find out. Games come with age ratings along with a break down of the kind of content that comes with that rating.
2) Talk with your teen about the kinds of games they play. It’s important to openly discuss what’s okay to play and what’s not, along with an explanation about why.
3) Make use of parental controls on gaming consoles. You have the power to set up profiles for each of your children, with each profile specifying what type of content each child can access. You can set it to require a password for more mature content. This required password gives you the opportunity to discuss a game’s content with your teen and to decide together whether it’s an okay game to play or not.
4) Make sure that your teen’s profile is set to private. Encourage your teen not to use their full name or photo for their gaming profile, or to share their personal information with other players. Teach your teen to block players who send threatening or bullying messages. You can also use parental controls to limit the types of people your teen can speak to online via their games. Teach your teen the dangers of online predators as well, and that they may not be who they claim to be.
5) Keep the gaming console in a shared social space, rather than in your teen’s bedroom. This way, you can see what your teen is playing and participate.