Are video games safe for my child?

Video games or gaming usually means playing electronic games. You can play them on consoles, computers, mobile phones or another device.

Gaming is often considered to be something children do on their own. However, online multiplayer video games have become very popular.

You won’t be the only one worried about your child playing video games, lots of parents are. But gaming isn’t a bad thing, as long as it is age appropriate for your child, you manage their game time, and they are honest and open about what they are playing.

A teenager playing video games

Are video games dangerous?

  • Video games are a new way to play. You may have played video games when you were younger, but modern games can be very different to what you will have played.
  • You may have seen headlines about video game addiction, violent behaviour or online strangers. This can mean that lots of parents worry about their children playing games.
  • With the right information and advice, you can ensure that video games are a safe and even positive part of family life.

What are the benefits of online gaming?

Like books, films and music, video games have many benefits. Unlike these ‘traditional’ forms of entertainment, it might not be as obvious what they are.

  • When a child plays a game they are often developing their self-understanding. They are learning to communicate and solve complex problems. They can work with other players, engage in stories and practicing empathy for other characters.
  • There are lots of games available which specifically help with these skills.
  • Looking at resources such as the Family Video Game Database will help you identify games you think would benefit your child.
  • Playing games together is a good step to unlocking these benefits. The Family Video Game Database can also help you find games that you can play together.
  • We’ve suggested five games that you can play together.

How can I make gaming safe?

  • Make sure that your child is playing age-appropriate games.
  • Search for games that suit the age and tastes of your child.
  • Games often have parental control options built in. Plus, all modern video game consoles, smartphones and tablets provide tools for parents and carers. You can control how children interact with other people, what they can spend money on and what content they can access.
  • The following steps are common to all these platforms and a good guide for setting things up:
    – Create a separate account for your child.
    – Specify the PEGI age rating limit for games. If you’re not sure what that is, take a look at our article on age restrictions.
    – Create pocket money spending limits for their account.
    – Manage how they can communicate and swap media with other players.

Other help

There are many great guides online to help:

Andy Robertson is a video game journalist and father of three. He created the Family Video Game Database and wrote the parenting book, Taming Gaming

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