Online games can be great fun and a good way to help children stay connected to friends while at home. Games can also improve coordination, problem-solving and multi-tasking skills, as well as help children build social skills through online interactivity with other players.
For a healthy balance, encourage offline as well as online games and activities, such as home exercise, playing board games, drawing and reading books.
If your child is online gaming, it is important to be aware of risks, including
- spending too much time gaming, which can have negative impacts on your child’s health, ability to study, and social and emotional wellbeing
- cyberbullying and grooming through online or in-game chat
- games with gambling-like elements which can normalise gambling for young people
- costs of in-game spending.
What can I do?
- Prepare — locate the computer, device or games console in an open area of your home and use available parental controls and safety features for devices, browsers and apps.
- Stay involved — talk regularly with your child about their gaming interests and who they play with online. If you’re also spending time at home, now might be the time to play alongside your child to get a better sense of how they handle their personal information and who they communicate with. Gaming with your child can also be fun!
- Be aware of what they are playing — games vary in their level of violent or sexual content, and may contain themes, language and images that are unsuitable for your child.
- Build good habits — help your child protect their personal information by using an appropriate screen name that does not reveal their real name. Teach them not to click on links provided by strangers or to use ‘cheat’ programs to help with game play, which can contain viruses or malware.
- Empower your child —wherever possible, help them make wise decisions for themselves, rather than telling them what to do.Try to provide them with strategies for dealing with negative online experiences that will build their confidence and resilience.
- Agree on strategies to help them switch off — for example, a timer that signals game time is nearly over, with consequences for not switching off.
- Learn how to help if your child has experienced bullying or unwanted contact when gaming.